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Full text of "To the West"

TO THE WEST. 



JiY 



CEO. MANVILLE FE^W, 

ALJllOl*. OI *' i KOWV AM) SLiriU , * M \^b' I 1 OHUL^ ETC 



flluGlratcb bn (lil. J. ^largan 



TUliLlSlIlI) 1 M>CH IKE IHUECIION OT 1 HE COMMITTEE 
Ol Ui NEKAL LIirilVTL'KL AM> EDICVIIUN AlM't)IMEl) 1{\ THE 
SOLILIY lOlw I'UOMOIINO ClIUIhTlAN 3vNOA\LEDCtE 



SOCIETY FOrt Pr.OMOTIXG CJIEISTIAX KNOWLEDGE, 

LO^D0^: ^ORTHLMBrJiL^.^D A\ENUE, >V.C. ; 

43, yUhLN \ICl-HlIA SI .LLT, J-.C. 
BUIGHIUN i.jO M UllI SlKEKT. 

>i.\v VoKK. L i; J 13 rOUXc; & CO. 

1801. 



TO THE WEST. 



CONTENTS. 



CHAP 

I. MR. JOHN DEMrSTER 



II. 

III. 

IV. 

V. 

VI. 
VII. 

VIII. 

IX. 

X. 

XI. 

SI I.. 

XIII. 
SIV. 

XV. 



XVII. 

XVIII. 

XIX. 

xs. 



lAIR. ISAAC DEMPSTER 
MY NEW FRIENDS ... 



• * 



« fr 



■ t 



* • # 



4 ■ « 



HOW MR. DEMPSTER USCD HIS CANE 



A MISERABLE NIGHT 



A « 



AN ESCAPE, AND A SUGGESTION 

MY friends' plans 

A STARTLING ANNOUNCEMENT 



DIFFICULTIES 



4 ■ * 



t • 



OFF TO THE WEST ... 
SEVENTEEN "WEEKS AT SEA 
WE GET INTO HOT WATER 

IN NEW QUARTERS . . . 
A SERIOUS TROUBLE 



4 # • 



* 4 # 



WHERE ESAU HAD BEEN 



* t 4 



XVI. EMULATING THE CORNISH.MEN 



**it's them" 
british columbia... 



* W 



« t 



GUNSON FIGHTS MY BATTLE 



A STRANGE HOTEL 



XXL OUR MORNING BATH 
XXII. WE START UP THE RIVER 
XXIII, ESAU HAS A DREAM 



4 t 4 



* ■ # 



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4 4 t 



4 4 4 



4 * * 



4 4 



4 14 



4 4 4 



4 4 



4 * 



4 4 



PACT 

5 
13 

23 
29 
38 
45 
59 
67 
76 
86 
93 
100 

114 
120 
135 
157 

162 
167 
178 
193 

202 
212 
226 



IV 

CHAP, 

XXIV. 

XXV. 

XXVI. 

XXVII. 

XXVIII. 

XXIX. 

XXX. 

XXXI. 

XXXII. 

XXXIII. 

XXXIV. 

XXXV. 

XXXVI. 

XXXVII. 

XXXVIII. 

XXXIX. 

XL. 

XLI. 

XLII. 

XLI II. 

XLIV. 

XLV. 

XLVI. 

XLVII. 

XL VII I. 

XLIX. 

L. 

LI. 

LII. 

Lin. 

LIV. 

LV. 

LVI. 



CONTENTS. 



I SEE FOOTPRINTS 
QUONG TAKES REFUGE 
A DIFFICULT PATH 



* t 



4 4 



4 ft 



« • 



4 ■ P 



• 4 * 



HOW WE FOUND OUT A PUZZLE ... 



esau in difficulties 
"look!"... 



* « 



WE MEET A STRANGER 



4 « « 



4 « 



4 • P 



* V 



* 4 



4 * 



AN AWAKENING 



« * 



ft « 



WAS I DREAMING? 

LEAVE TAKING 

WE MAKE A DISCOVERY 



4 t * 



• ft * 



ft ft 



" ON MY WORD OF HONOUR " 
MY DOCTOR AND NURSE ... 
IN THE SPRING ... 
*'D0 I LOOK FORTUNATE 1" 



* < 



4 4 



QUONG IS MISSING 



ft 4 « 



INOPPORTUNE ARRIVALS .. 
AN INVASION OF SAVAGES 
WE MAKE UP OUR MINDS 



4 4 



« ■ * 



4 4 



OUR WARNING 
gray's MESSAGE 



GUNSON S DECISION 



4 « 



# * t 



4 4 



4 * 



THE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE LAW 



ALMOST SOLDIERS 



LOST ! 



4^4 



I MAKE A DISCOVERY 
OUR PATIENT AWAKES 
ON ACTIVE SERVICE 



4 4 4 



4 4 



i * * 



* 4 



4 > 



« 4 



t 4 * 



A NEW ENEMY 



4 « 



MR. John's scruples 



« « 



a • 



WE MAKE A FRESH START 
MR. RAYDON QUOTES I ATIN 



4 « 



» ft « 



THE GOLDEN HARVEST 



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PAGE 

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288 

299 

313 

327 

342 

348 

354 

370 

382 

391 

398 

407 

417 

428 

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495 

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518 

529 

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TO THE WEST. 



CHAPTEE I. 



MR. JOHN DEMPSTER. 




HAT would I do, sir ? Why, if I were as 
poor as you say you are, and couldn't 
get on here, I'd go abroad/* 

" But where, sir ? where to ? " 



Don't ask me. 



The world's big 



"Anywhere. 

enough and round enough for you, isn't it ? " 
"But without means, Mr. Dempster?" 
" Yes, sir, without means. Work, sir work. 

same as I have done. 



The 



I pay my poor rate, and I 
cau't afford to help other people. Good morning." 
I heard every word uttered as I sat on my stool 

in the outer office, and I felt as if I could see 
my employer, short, stout, fierce looking and gray, 
frowning at the thin, pale, middle aged man whom I 
had ushered in — ^Mr, John Dempster he told me his 
name was — and who had come to ask for the loan 
of a little money, as he was in sore distress. 

Every word of his appeal huit me, and I felt, when 



6 TO THE WEST. 

the words came through the open door, as if I should 
have Hked to take my hat and go away. But I 
dared not, for I had been set to copy some letters, 
and I knew from old experience that if Mr. Dempster 
— Mr. Isaac Dempster that is came out or called 
for me, and I was not there, I sliould have a repetition 
of many a painful scene. 

I tried not to listen, but every word came, and I 
heard how unfortunate Mr. John Dempster had 
been ; that his wife had been seriously ill, and now 
needed nourishing food and wine ; and as all that 
was said became mixed up with what I was writing, 
and the tears would come into my eyes and make 
them dim, I found myself making mistakes^ and left 
off in despair. 

I looked cautiously over the double desk, peeping 
between some books to see if Esau Dean, my fellow 
boy clerk, was watching me ; but as usual he was 
asleep with his head hanging down over his blotting- 
paper, and the sun shining through his pale-coloured 
knotty curls, which gave his head the appearance of 
a black man's bleached to a whitey brown ; and as I 
looked through the loop hole between the books, my 
fellow clerk's head faded away, and T was looking 
back at my pleasant old school-days at Wiltboro', from 
which place I was suddenly summoned home two 
years before to bid good-bye to my mother before 
we had to part for ever. 

And then all the old home -life floated before me 
like a bright sunny picture, and the holidays at 
the rambling red brick house with its great walled 
garden, where fruit was so abundant that it seemed 
of no value at all. There was my pony, and Don 



MK. JOHN DEMPSTER. 7 

and Skurry, the dogs, and the river and my boat, 
and the fellows who used to come and spend weeks 
with me — school fellows w^ho always told me what 
a lucky chap I was ; and perhaps it was as well, for 
I did not understand it then, not till the news came 
of my father's death, and my second summons home. 

I did not seem to understand it then that I was 
alone in the world, and that almost the last words 
my mother said to me would have to be thought 
out and put to the test. I had a dim recollection 
of her holding my hand, and telling me that what- 
ever came I was to be a man, and patient, and never 
to give up ; but it was not till months after that I 
fully realized that in place of going back to school 
I was to go at once out into the world and fight for 
myself, for I was quite alone. 

I can*t go into all this now — how I used to sit 
in my bed-room at night with my head aching from 
thinking and trying to see impossibilities. Let it be 

sufficient if I tell you that after several trials at 
various things, for all of which I was soon told I was 
inefficient, I found myself, a big, sturdy, country- 
looking lad, seated on an old leather-covered stool 
at a double desk, facing Esau Dean, writing and 
copying letters, while my fellow-clerk wrote out 
catalogues for the printer to put in type, both of us 
in the service of Mr. Isaac Dempster, an auctioneer 
in Baring Lane, in the City of London, and also both 
of us, according to Mr. Dempster, the most stupid 
idiots that ever dipped pen in ink. 

I supposed then that Mr. Dempster was right — that 
I was stupid and not worth my salt, and that he had 
only to hold up his little finger and he could get a 



8 TO TTTF-: WEST. 

thousand better lads than we were ; but at the same 
time I felt puzzled that he should keep us ou, and 
that Saturday after Saturday he should pay our 
wages and never say a word about discharging us- 

Esau for going to sleep over his work, and me for 
making so many mistakes. 

I had had scores of opportunities forjudging that 
Mr. Dempster was a hard unfeeling man, who was 
never harder than when he had been out to his lunch, 
and came back nibbling a toothpick, and smelling 
very strongly of sherry; but it had never come so 
thoroughly home to me as on that bright day, just 
at the time when for nearly an hour the sun shone 
down into the narrow court like lane, and bathed 
our desk, and made me think of {he country, the 
garden, the bright river, and above all, of those who 
were dead and gone. 

As I told you, my eyes were very dim when I saw 
Mr. John Dempster come out of the office slowly 
and close the door, to stand on the mat shaking his 
head sadly. 

" He who goes a borrowing goes a sorrowing," he 
said to himself, softly. " I might have known — I 
might have known." 

He turned then and glanced at Esau, smiling faintly 
to see him asleep, and then his eyes met mine gazing 
at him fixedly, for somehow he seemed just then to 
have a something in his face that recalled my father, 
as he lot)ked one day Avhen he had had some very 
bad news — something about money. And as I gazed 
at our visitor that day the likeness seemed to grow 
wonderful, not in features, but in his aspect, and the 
lines about his eyes and the corner of his mouth. 



MR JOHX DEMPSTER. 9 

" Ah, my lad," he said, with a pleasant smile full 
of sadness, "you ought to pray that you might be 
al"ways young and free from care. Good-day." 

He nodded and passed out of the office, and I 
heard his steps in the narrow lane. 

I glanced at Esau, who was asleep still, then at the 
door of the inner office, and started as I heard a 
cough and the rustling of a newspaper. Then, gliding 
off my stool, I caught my cap from the peg where it 
hung, slipped out at the swing-door, and saw our 
late visitor just turning the corner at the bottom of 
the lane into Thames Street. 

The next minute I had overtaken him, and he 
turned sharply with a joyful look in his eyes. 

"Ah!" he said, "my cousin has sent you to call 
me back ? " 

"No, sir,'' I stammered, witli my clieeks burning; 
and there I stopped, for the words would not 
come. 

How well I remember it ! We were close to the 
open door of a warehouse, with the scent of oranges 
coming out strongly, and great muscular men with 
knots on their shoulders, bare -armed, and with drab 
breeches and white stockings, were coming up a 
narrow court leading to a wharf, bearing boxes of 
fruit from a schooner, and going back wiping their 
foreheads with their bare arms. 

'' You came after me ? " said our visitor, with the 
old pained look in his eyes, as he half turned from 
me, and I stood turning over something in my hand. 

"You came after me?" he said again; and as he 
once more looked in my eyes, they seemed to make 
me speak. 



JJ 



10 TO THE WEST. 

" Yes, sir." 

" Well, what is it ? Speak out." 
"I — I couldn't help healing all _you siiid tu Mi. 
Dempster, sir," I faltered. 

"Eh ! " he cried, with a start. Then with a smile 
full of bitterness, " Lot it be a lesson to you, boy. 
Work — strive — do anything sooner than humble 
yourself as I have done this day. But — but," he 
said, as if to himself, " Heaven knows I was 
driven." 

"Mr. Dempster never will lend any one money, 
sir," I said hastily ; " but if you wouldn't mind — I 
don't want this for a bit. I've been saving it up — 
for a long time — and — by and by — you can pay me 
again, and 

I had stammered out all this and then stopped 
short, drawing my breath hard, for he had seized my 
hand, and was gripping it so hard that the coin I 
held was pressed into my fingers, as I gazed up into 
his face, while he slowly relaxed his hold and looked 
down into my palm. 

" A sovereign ! " he said slowly ; and then fiercely, 
" Did your employer send you with that ? And," he 
cried hastily, " you heard ? " 

"Yes, sir. I was not listening.'* 
"How — how long has it taken you to save up 
this ? " 

" I don't know, sir — months. ' 

"Ah 1" Then as he held my hand tightly, he said 
in a half mocking way, " Do you know when I came 
into the office I envied you, my boy, for I said, Here 
is one who has begun on the stool, and he'll grow up 
to be a rich City man. 



}f 



ME. JOHN DEMPSTER. 11 

'' I don t think I shall, sir/' I said, with a laugh. 

" No," he said, " you are of the wrong stuff, boy. 
Do you know that you are a weak young idiot to 
come and offer me, a perfect sti'anger, all that money 
— a man you have never seen before, and may 
never see again ? How do you know I am not an 
impostor ? " 

''I don't know how, sir," I said, "but I can see 



you are not. 

He pressed my hand more firmly, and I saw his 
lips move for a few moments, but no sound came. 
Then softly 

" Thank you, my lad," he said. " You have given 
me a lesson. I was saying that it was a hard and a 
bitter and cruel world, when you came up to show 
me that it is full of hope and sunshine and joy after 
all if we only seek it. I don't know who you are, 
but your father, boy, must have been a gentleman 
at heart, and your mother as true a lady as ever 

breathed. Ah ! '' 

He bent towards me as he still held my hand, for 
he must have read the change in my face, for his 
words sent a curious pang through me. 

" Your mother is — ? " He finished his question 
with a look. 

I nodded, and set my teeth hard. 

" Now, sir, please I " cried a rough voice, as a 
heavily-laden man came up, and my companion drew 
me into the road. 

" Tell me your name." 

*' Gordon, sir," I said. "Mayne Gordon." 

" Come and see me — and my wife," he said, taking 
a card from a shabby pocket-book. *' Come on Sunday 



7J 



12 TO THE WKST. 

evening and have tea with us -Kentish Town. Will 
you come ? 

'' Yes/' I said, eagerly. 

" That's right. There, I can't talk now. Shake 
hands. Good-bye," 

He wrung my hand hard, and turned hurriedly 
away, but I was by his side again. 

'■ Stop," I said. " You have not taken the 
the—" 

'^ No," he said, clapping me on the shoulder, '' I 
can't do that. You've given jne something worth a 
thousand such coins as that, boy as you are renewed 
faith in my fellow man — better still, patience and 
hope. Good bye, my lad," he said, brightly. " On 
Sunday, mind. Don't lose that card." 

Before I could speak again lie had hurried away, 
and just then a cold chill ran through me, and I set 
off at a run. 

Suppose Mr. Isaac Dempster should ha ve o.ome 

out into the office and found I had gone out ! 




CHAPTER IL 




MR. ISAAC DEMPSTER. 

WAS in the act of opening the swing 
door stealthily, and was half through 
when I saw that Mr. Dempster was act 
ing precisely in the same way, stealing 

through the inner doorway, and making me a sign to 

stop. 

I obeyed, shivering a little at what was to come^ 
and wishing that I had the courage to utter a word 
of warning. For there was Esau with his head 
hanging down over the catalogue he was copying out, 
fast asleep, the sun playing amongst his fair curls, 
and a curious guttural noise coming from his nose. 

It was that sound, I felt, which had brought Mr. 
Dempster out with his lips drawn back in an ugly 
grin, and a malicious look in his eyes as he stepped 
forward on tiptoe, placed both his hands together 
on my fellow-clerk's curly head, and pressed it down 
with a sudden heavy bang on the desk. 

Something sounded very hollow. Perhaps it was 
the desk. Then there was a sudden bound, and Esau 
was standing on the floor, gazing wildly at our 
employer. 



14 TO THE WEST. 

'* You lazy idiotic lump of opium," roared the 
latter. " That's the way my work's done, is it ? " 

As our employer uttered these words he made at 
Esau, following up and cuffing him first on one side 
of the head and then on the otlier, while the lad, 
who seemed utterly confused with sleep, and the 
stunning contact of his brow against the desk, backed 
away round the office, beginning then to put up his 
arms to defend himself. 

"Here," he cried, "don't you hit me don't you 
hit me." 

"Hit you ! — you stupid, thick headed, drowsy oaf! 
rU knock some sense into you. Nice pair, upon my 
word ! And you — you scoundrel," he cried, turning 
on me, " where have you been ? " 

"Only — only just outside, sir," I stammered, as I 
felt my cheeks flush. 

"I'll only just outside you," he roared, catching 
Tiie by the collar and shaking me "This is the 

way my work is done, is it ? You're always late of 



a morning — 

"No, sir," I cried, indignantly. 

" Silence ! — And always the first to rush off before 
your work's done; and as soon as my back's turned, 
you're off to play with the boys in the street. Where 
have you been ? " 

I was silent, I felt that I could not tell him. 

" Sulky, eh ? Here, you," he roared, turning upon 

Esau, *' where has he been ? How long has he been 
gone? 

" Don*t you hit me ! Don't you hit me 1 " cried 
the boy, sulkily ; " I shan't stand this." 

" I say, how long has he been gone ? " 



MR. ISAAC DEMPSTER. 15 

"I was only gone a few minutes, sir," I said. 

" Gone a few minutes, you scoundrel I How dare 
you be gone a few minutes, leaving my office open ? 
You're no more use than a boy out of the streets, 
and if I did my duty by you, I should thrash you 
till you could not stand. Back to your desk, you 
dog, and the next time I catch you at any of these 
tricks off you go, and no character." 

As I climbed back to my place at the desk, hot, 
flushed, and indignant, feeling more and more un 
able to explain the reason for my absence, and guilty 
at the same tim-e — knowing as I did that I had no 
business to steal off — Mr. Dempster turned once more 
upon Esau, who backed away from him round the 
office, sparring away with his arms to ward off the 
blows aimed at him, though I don't think they were 
intended to strike, but only as a malicious kind of 
torture. 

"Here, don't you hit me! don't you hit me!" 
Esau kept on saying, as if this was the only form 
of words he could call up in his excitement. 

" 111 half break your neck for you, you scoundrel ! 



Is that catalogue done ? " 

" How can I get it done when you keep on chivvy- 
ing me about the place ? " cried Esau. 

" How can you get it done if you go to sleep, you 
scoundrel, you mean. Now then, up on to that stool, 
and if it isn't done you stop after hours till it is 
done. Here, what are you staring at ? Get on with 
those letters." 

Mr. Dempster had turned upon me furiously as 
I sat looking, and with a sigh I went on with my 
writing, while red-faced and wet-eyed, for he could 



16 TO THE WEST. 

not keep the tears back, Esau climbed slowly on to 
his stool, and gave a tremendous sniff. 

" I shall tell mother as soon as I get home," he 
cried. 

"Tell your mother, you great calf! You had 
better not," roared Mr. Dempster. " She has troubles 
enough. It was only ont of charity to her that I 
took you on. For you are useless perfectly useless. 
I lose pounds through your blunders. There, that 
will do. Get on with your work." 

He went bnck into thp inne^ office, and banged 
the door so heavily that all the auction bills which 
papered the walls of our office began to flap and 
swing about. Then for a few minutes there was only 
the scratching of our pens to be heard. 

Then Esau gave a tremendous sniff, began wiping 
his eyes on the cuffs of his jacket, and held the 
blotting-paper against each in turn as he looked 
acioss at me. 

'''Taint crying/' he said. "Only water. Ketch 
him making me cry ! " 

"You were crying," I said, quietly. 

" No, I wasn't. Don't you get turning again' me 
too. Take a better man than him to make me cry." 

I laughed. 

"Ah, you may grin," grumbled my companion; 
"but just you have your head knocked a^ain' the 
desk, and just you see if it wouldn't make your eyes 
water. 

At that moment the door was opened with a 
snatch. 

" Silence there ! You, Gordon, will you go on 
with your work ? " 



J? 



MR. ISAAC DEMPSTER. 17 

The door was banged before I could have answered. 
Not that I should have said anything. But as soon 
as the door clicked Esau went on again without 
subduing his voice — 

"I ain't afraid of him — cheating old knocktioneer ! 
Thinks lie's a right to knock everybody down 'cause 



n 



he's got a license. 

''Go on with your work/' I whispered, "or lie'll 
come back." 

''Let him; I don't care. I ain't afraid. It was 
all your fault for going out." 

" And yours for being asleep. ' 

" I can't help my head being heavy. Mother says 
it's because I've got so much brains. But I'll serve 
him out. I'll make all the mistakes I can, and he'll 
have to pay for them being corrected." 

''What good will that do ? " 

"I dunno; but I'll serve him out. He shan't hit 
me. I say, what did you go out to buy ? " 

"Nothing. I went out to speak to that gentleman 

who came. 

"What gentleman who came?" 

"While you were asleep." 

" There you go ! You're as bad as old Knock 'em- 
down. Fellow's only got to sliut his eyes, and you 
say he's asleep. But I don't care. Everybody's 
again me, but I'll serve 'em out." 

" You'd better go on with your writing." 

" Shan't. Go on with yours. I know. I'll 'list- 
that's what I'll do. Like to see old Going-going 
touch me then !" 

There was a busy interval of writing, during which 
something seemed to ask me why I let Mr. Dempster 

B 



>? 



18 TO THE WEST. 

behave so brutally to me, and I began wondering 
whether I was a coward. I felt that I could not be 
as brave as Esau, or I should have resisted. 

" Not half a chap, you ain't ! " said my companion, 
suddenly. 

" Why ? " 

" You'd say you'd come with me. Deal better to 
be soldiers than always scrawling down Lot 104 on 



paper. 

" I don't want to be a soldier," I said. 

" No ; you're not half a chap. Only wait a bit. 
I'd ha' gone long ago if it hadn't been for mother." 

"Yes; she wouldn't like you to go." 

'' How do you know ? " 

*' Mrs. Dean told me so. She said you were mad 
about red coats." 

"That's just like mother/' said Esau, with a grin, 
"alhis wrojig. I don't want to wear a red coat. 
Blue's my colour." 

" What — a sailor ? " I said quickly. 

" Get out ! Sailor ! all tar and taller. I'm not 
going to pull ropes. I mean blue uniform 'Tilkry 
Horse Artillery. They do look fine. I've seen 'ein 
lots o' times." 

"Here, you t'wo, I'm going out. I shall be back 
in five minutes," said ^Ir. Dempster, so suddenly that 
he made us both stirt. "Look sharp and get that 
work done." 

He stood drawing a yellow silk handkerchief 
rovind and round his hat, which ^\as already as 
bright as it could be made, and then setting 
it on very much on one side, he gave his silk 
umbrella a flourish, touched his diamond pin with 



JJ 



MR. ISAAC DEMPSTER. 19 

the tip of his well gloved finger, and strutted 

out. 

" Back in five minutes I Yah I" cried Esau. *' It's 

all gammon about being honest and getting on. 

■' No, it isn't," I said, as I carefully dotted a few i*s. 

" Yes, it is. Look at him makes lots o' money, 
and he cheats people and tells more lies in a day 
than I've told in all my life." 

" Nonsense 1 " 

** 'Taint. He's a regular bad 'un. Back in five 
minutes ! Why he won't come till it's time to go, 
and then he'll keep us waiting so as to get all the 
work he can out of us." 

But that time Esau was wrong, for in about five 
minutes the outer door was opened, and our employer 
thrust in his head. 

" There's a letter on my table to post, Gordon," he 
said. " Be sure it goes." 

" Yes, sir," I said, and as the door closed again I 
looked at Esau and laughed. 

*'0h, I don't mind," he said. "That wasn't 
coming back. He only looked in to see if we were 
at work. I shan't stop here ; ] shall 'list." 

" No, you will not," I said, as I went on writing 
quietly. 

" Oh, yes, I shall. You can go on lodging with 
the old woman, for you won't he the chnp to come 

with me." 

"You won't go," I said. 

"Ah, you'll see. You don't mean to stop heie, do 
you, and be bullied and knocked about ? " 

I went on writing and thinking of how dearly I 

should have liked to go somewhere else, for my life 



20 TO TFTE srr^r, 

was very miserable with Mr. Dempster ; but I always 
felt as if it would be cowardly to give up, and I ha 1 
stayed on, though that day's experience was very like 
those which had gone before. 

We had both finished our tasks an hour before 
I\Ir. Dempster returned, nearly an hour after closing 
time, and even then he spent a long time in 
criticizing the writing and finding fault, concluding 
by ordering Esau to go round with the catalogue 
he had made out to the printer's. 

''Thei'e's a master for you I " cried my fellow-clcTk, 
as we w^ent up into the main street. '* I shan't stand 
it. I'm croino* for a soldier." 

I laiighed. 

*' Ah, you may grin at what I say, but Avait a bit. 



Going home ? 



)) 



" No/' I said, ''I slinll walk round with you to the 



' . jj 



prmter s. 

He gave me a quick bright look, and his manner 
changed as if, once free of the office, he felt boy-like 
and happy. He whistled, hummed o\cr bits of songs, 
and chatted about the various things we passed, till 
we had been at the printei''s, and then had to I'etrace 
our steps so as to cross Blackfnars Bridge, and reach 
Camberwell, where in a narrow street off the Albanv 
Koad Esan's mother rented a little house, working 
hard with her needle to produce not many shillings a 
week, which were supplemented by her boy's earn- 
ings, and the amount I paid for my bed, breakfast, 
and tea. 

It was my fellow-clerk's proposal that I should 
join them, and I had good cause to be grateful, the 
place being delightfully clean, and little, quaint. 



MK. ISAAC DEMPSTER. 21 

homely Mrs. Dean looking upon me as a lodger who 
was to be treated with the greatest of respect. 

" Shan't go for a soldier to night ! " said Esau, 
throwing himself back in his chair, after we had 
finished our tea. 

"I should think not indeed," ciied his mother. 
"Esau, Tm ashamed of you for talking like that. 
Has he been saying anything about it to you, Master 
Gordon 1 " 

"Oh, yes, but he don't mean it," I replied. " It's 
onlv when he's cross." 

*' Has master been scolding him then again ? " 

*' Scolding ? " cried Esau scornfully, " why he never 
does nothin;^ else." 

"Then you must have given him cause, Esau dear. 
Master Gordon, what had he dene ? " 

" Mr. Dempster caught him asleep." 

" Well, I couldn't help it. My head was so heavy." 

"Yes" fiio-hed ^trs Dean "his hend always wns 

very heavy, poor boy. He goes to sleep at such 
strange times too, sir." 

" Well, don't tell him that, mother," ciied Esau. 
"You tell eveiybody." 

" Well, dear, there's no harm in it. I never said 
it was your fault. Lots of times. Master Gordon, 
I've known him go to sleep when at play, and once I 
found him quite fast with his mouth full of bread 
and butter." 

" Such stuff ! " grumbled Esau, angrily. 

" It is quite true, Master Gordon. He always was 

a drowsy boy." 

*' Make anybody drowsy to keep on writing lots 
and figures," grumbled Esau. " Heigho — ha — hum 1 " 



22 TO THE WEST. 

he yawned. " I shan't be very long before I go to 
bed." 

He kept his word, and I took a book and sat down 
by the little fire to read ; but though I kept on turn- 
ing over the pages, I did not follow the text ; for I 
was either thinking about Mrs. Dean's needle as it 
darted in and out of the stuff she was sewing, or else 
about Mr. John Dempster and our meeting that day 
of how I had promised to go up and see him on 
Sunday, and how different he was to his cousin. 

The time must have gone fast, for when tlie clock 
began to strike, it went on up to ten ; and I was 
thinking it was impossible that it could be so late, 
when I happened to glance across at little Mrs. Dean, 
whose work had dropped into her lap, and she was 
as fast asleep then as her son had been at the office 
hours before. 




CHAPTER TIT. 



MY XrW FRIENDS 




OOR Esau and I had had a 1 ard time at 
the office, for it seemed that my patient 
forbearing way of receiving all the fault 
finding made Mr. Dempster go home at 
night to invent unpleasant things to say, till, as I 
had listened, it had seemed as if my blood boiled, and 
a hot sensation came into my throat. 

All this had greatly increased by the Saturday 
afternoon, and had set me thinking that there was 
something in what Esau said, and that I should be 
better anywhere than where I was. 

But on the Sunday afternoon, as I walked up the 
sunny road to Kentish Town, and turned down a 
side street of small old-looking houses, each with its 
bit of garden and flowers, everything looked so bright 
and pleasant, even there, that my spirits began to 
rite; and all the more from the fact that at one of 
tlie cottage like places witli its porch and flowers, 
there were three cages outside, two of whose inmates, 
a lark and a canary, were singing loudly and making 
the place ring. 

It is curious how a musical sound takes one back 



24 TO THK WEST. 

to the past. lu an instant as I walked on, I was 
seeinor the brifrht river down at home, with the boat 
gliding along, the roach and dace flashing away to 
right and left, the chub scurrying from under the 
willows, the water weeds and white buttercups brush- 
ing against the sides, and the Lirk singing high 
overhead in the blue sky. 

London and its smoke were gone, and the houses 
to right and left had no existence for me then, till 
I was suddenly brought back to the present by a 

hand being laid on my shoulder, and a familiar 
voice saying 

"Mr. Gordon! Had you forgotten the address? 
You have passed the house ! " 

As these words were uttered a hand grasped mine 
very warmly, and I was looking in the thin, worn, 
pleasant features of Mr. John Dempster, which 
seemed far brighter than wh3n I saw him at the 



ce. 



?) 



offi 

"Very, very glad to see you, my dear young 
fiiend," he cried, taking my arm. "My wife and I 
have been looking forward to this day ; she is very 
eager to make your acquaintance. 

To my surprise he led me back to the little house 
where the birds were singing, and I could not 
help glancing at him wonderingly, for I had fully 
expected to find him living in a state of poverty, 
whereas everything looked neat and good and plain. 

" Give me your hat," he said, as we stood in the 

" That's right. Now in here. Aloxes, my 
lear, this is my young friend, Mr. Gordon." 

" I am very glad you have come," said a sweet, 
musical voice ; and my hand was taken by a 




< 



MY NEW FRIENDS. 25 

graceful-looking lady," who must once have been 
very beautiful. "You are hot and tired. Come and 
sit down here." 

I felt hot and uncomfortable, everything \\as so 
different from what I had ex2:)ected ; foi the room was 
not in the least shabby, and the tea things placed 
ready added to the pleasant he me- like aspect of the 
place. 

"You have not walked ?" said Mr. John Dempster. 

" Oh, yes/' I replied. 

" From — wheie ? " 

I told him. 

"Camberwoll? And I was so unreasonable as to 
ask you to come all this way." 

I did not know how it was, but I somehow felt as 
if I had come to visit some very old friends, and 
in quite a short time we "were chatting confiden 
tially about our affairs. They soon knew all about 
my own home, and my life since I left school so 
suddenly ; and on my side I learned that Mrs. John 
Dempster had had a very serious illness, but was 
recovering slowly, and that they were contemplating 
Sfoins" abroad, the doctors havin^^ said that she must 
not stay in our damp climate for another winter. 

I learned, too, that, as Mr. John Dempster said, 
when things came to the worst they improved. It 
had been so here, for the night after his visit to 
his cousin in the city, a letter had come from Mrs. 
John Dempster's brother, who Avas in the North- 
West — wherever that might be — and their tempoi'ary 

troubles were at an end. 

That would have been a delightfully pleasant meal 
but for one thing. No allusion was made to the 



26 TO THE WEST. 

visit to the city, and tliougli I sat trembling, for fear 
they should both begin to thank me for my offer, not 
a word was said. The tea \va5 simple. The flowers 
on the table and in the window smelled sweetly, 
and the birds sang, wlule there was sometiiing about 
Mrs. John that fascinated me, and set me thinking 
about the happy old days at home. 

The one unpleasantly was the conduct of the little 
maid they kept. She was around rosy-faced girl of 
about fifteen, I suppose, but diessed in every respect, 
cap and apron and all, like a woman of five-and- 
twenty. In fact she looked like a small sized woman 
with very hard looking shiny dark eyes. 

Upon her first entrance into the room bearing a 
bright tin kettle, for the moment I thouglit that as 
she looked so fierce, it was she who uttered little 
snorts, hisses, and sputtering noises. But of course 
it was only the kettle, for she nierely looked at 

rvie angrily and gave a definnt sniff As the even- 
ing went on, I found that this w^as Maria, and it 
soon became evident that Maria did not like me, 
but looked upon me as a kind of intruder, of 
whom she was as jealous as a girl of her class 
could be. 

Pleasant evenings always pass too rapidly, and it 
was so here; I could not believe it when the hands 
of the little clock on the chimney piece pointed to 
nine, and I rose to go. 

"How soon it seems f " sighed Mrs. John. *' Well, 
Mayne " — it had soon come to that — "you must call 
and see us again very soon — while we are here," she 
added, slowly. 

"Ah, and who knows but what he may come when 



MY NEW FRIENDS 27 

we are far away I " said Mr. John. '' The worhl is 
only a small place after all." 

" Where should you go ? " I said, earnestly. '' I 
would come if I could." 

"Possibly to Canada/' said l[r John. " But there, 
we are not gone yet. You will not feel lonely, dear, 
if I walk a little way with our visitor ? " 

She gave him a very gentle smile, and as I held 
out my hand, she drew me to her and kissed me. 

I could not say *' Good bye ' then, for there was a 
strange choking feeling in my tliroat which made 
me harry away, and the last thing I heard as I went 
out was the sharp banging and locking of the little 
gate, followed by another defiant sniff. 

" Come and see us as often as you can, Mayne," 
said my new fiiend at parting. "We never had any 
children, and it is a pleasure to us to have young 
people about us, for since my misfortunes we have 

lived YQyj mnch fo nnrsplvps Trt fnct^ my dear 

wife's health has made it necessary that she should 
be much alone." 

"But she is crettinof better, sir ?" 

"Oh, rapidly now; and if I can get her abroad 
Ah, we must talk about this another time. Good- 
night." 

" Good-night." 

It was like the opening out of a new life to me, 
and I walked back to Caniberwell as if the distance 
was nothing, thinking as I was all the time about 
the conversation, of Mrs, John's sweet, patient face, 
and the constantly attentive manner of Mr. John, 
every action of his being repaid by a grateful smile. 

" I wonder/' I thought, " how it is possible that 



28 TO THE WEST. 

Mr. Dempster and Mr. John could be cousins;" and 
then I went on thinking about the interview at the 
office when Mr. Dempster was so harsh. 

This kept my attention till I reached the Deans', 
and then I walked straight in to find Mrs. Dean 
making believe to read, while Esau was bending his 
head slowly in a swaying motion nearer and nearer 
to the candle every moment. In fact I believe if I 
liad not arrived as I did, Esau's hair would have 
been singed so as to need no cutting for some time. 
As it was, he leaped up at a touch. 

"Oh, here you are!" he said. *' If you hadn't 
come I believe I should soon have dropped asleep." 




CHAPTER ]V. 




now MR. DEMPSTER USED HIS CANE. 

jlIFE at the office grew more miserable 
every clay, and Mr. Isaac Dempster more 
tyrannical. 

That's a big word to use, and seems 
more appropriate to a Roman emperor than to a 
London auctioneer ; but, on quietly thinking it over, 
it is quite correct, for I honestly believe that that 
man took delif^ht in abusino^ Esau and me. 

Let me see ; what did some one say about the 
employment of boys ? " A boy is a boy ; two boys 
are half a boy ; and three boys arc no boy at all.'' 

Of course, as to tlie amount of work they do. But 
it is not true, for I know — one of the auction room 
porters told me that Mr. Dempster used to keep 
two men-clerks in his office, till they both discharged 
themselves because they would not put up with what 
the porter called "his nastincss." Then we were 
both engaged. 

That was one day when Dingle came down in his 
green baize apron and carpet rap, and had to wait 
till our employer returned from his lunch. 

"Ahl" he said, *' the guvnor used to lead them 



30 TO THE WEST. 

two a pretty life, and keep 'em ever so late some- 
times/' 

''But he had more business then, I suppose?" I 
said. 

"Not he. Busier now, and makes more money. 
Nobody won't stop with him." 

*' Yes, they will," said Esau. *^ You said you'd 
been with hiin fourteen years." 



a \T 



Yes," said Dingle, showing his yellow teeth, " b\it 
I'm an auctioneer's fixtur', and going ain't in my 
way." 

" Why not ? " asked Esau. 

" Got a wife and twelve children, squire, and they 
nails a man down." 

Just then Mr. Dempster came in, ordered Dingle 
to go into his room, and we could hear him being 
well bullied about something, while as he came out 
he laughed at us both, and gave his head a peculiar 
shake. 

'' Off !" he whispered. " Flea in each ear." 

I mention this because it set me thinking that if 
we two lads of sixteen or seventeen did all the 
work for which two men were formerly kept, we 
could not be quite so useless and stupid as Mr. 
Dempster said. 

I know that my handwriting was not so very good, 
and I was not quite so quick with my pen as Esau, 
but his writing Avas almost like copper plate, and I 
used to feel envious ; thougli ] had one consolation 

■I never made Esau's mistakes in spelling. 

But nothing we ever did was right, and as the 
weeks went on, made bright to me now by my visits 
up in North London, Esau would throw down his 



J' 



HOW MR, DEMPSTER USED HIS CANE. 31 

pen three or four times a day, rub his hands all over 
his curly head, and look over the top of the desk 
at me. 

*' Now then/* he used to say ; " ready ? " 

" Ready for what ? 

"To go and 'list. We're big enough now." 

" Nonsense . " 

" 'Tain't nonsense," he said one morning, after Mr. 
Dempster had been a little more disagreeable than 
usual about some copying nob being finished, and 
then gone out, leaving me thinking what I could do 
to give him a little more satisfaction, so as to induce 
him to raise the very paltry salary he paid me. 
" 'Tain't nonsense. Motlioi says that if I stop I shall 
some day rise and get to be Loid Mayor, but I don't 
think Demp would like it, so when you're ready 

we'll go. Ready ? " 

" No." 

"You are a fellow " s-'iid Esan, toking np his pen 
again. " I say, though, I wish we could get places 
somewhere else. 

" Why not try ? " 

" Because it would only be to do writing again, 
and it's what makes me so sleepy. I'm getting 
worse — keep making figures and writing out cata- 
logues till my head gets full of 'em." 

"It is tiring," I said, with a ^igh. "But do go on; 
he'll be so cross if that list isn't finished." 

"Can't help it. I'm ever so much more sleepy 
this morning, and the w^ords got running one atop of 
another. Look here," he cried, holding up a sheet 
of ruled paper. "This oiight to have been ^ chest of 
drawers/ and it's run into one word, ' chawers ' ; and 



>> 



32 TO TTIE WEST. 

up higher there's another blunder, 'loo-table/ — it*s 
gone wrong too do you see ? — ' lable.' My head's 
all a buzz." 

" Tear it up quickly and write it again." 

" Shan't ; I shall correct it. No, I know. I shall 
cut the paper up, and stick it on another sheet, and 
write these lines in again. Pass the gum. Oh!'* 

"What's the matter?" 

"Here's 'mogany' lower down, and 'Tarpet' for 



> j> 



'Turkey caipet. 

"Write it again, do," I snid, for I dreaded the 
scene that I knew there woTild be. 

"Ah, well, all right, but I know I shall muddle it 
again, and 

" As usual," cried Mr. Dempster, and we both 
started back on to our stools, for we had been stand- 
ing up on the rails leaning towards each other over 
the double desk, so intent on the errors that we had 
not heard him open the door softly — I believe, on 

purpose to surprise us. 

We began writing hard, and I felt my heart 
beating fast, as our employer banged the door 
heavily and strode up to the desk. 

I gave one quick glance at him as he turned to 
Esau's side, and snatched up the sheet of paper the 
boy tried to hide under the blotting pad ; and as I 
looked I saw that his face was flushed and fierce- 
looking as I had never seen it before. 

"Hah I" he ejaculated, as he took off his glossy 
hat and stood it on a chair, with his ivory-handled 
Malacca cane across it. " Pretty stuff this, upon my 
word. Here, let me look at that letter." 

He reached over and snatched the missive T was 



HOW MR. DEMPSTER USED HIS CANE. 33 

writing from the desk, and held it up before 
him. 

"Do you call that Avriting?" he roaied. " Dis 
graceful ! Abominable . Tlie first boy I met in the 
street would do better. There and there and 
there ! " 

He toie the letter to fragments and threw tlie 
paper in my face. 

"Now then; write another directly," he cried; 
" and if you dare to — Here, what are you going to 
do?" he vo^i'ed, as Es-^n tooV hold of thp ^hoot of 
paper containing the errors. 

" Going to write it over again, sir/' 

" Write it over again, you miserable impostor ! " he 
cried, as he snatched the paper back and laid a 
leaden weight upon it. *'I'll teach you to waste my 

time and paper gossiping that's Avhat it means." 

" Here, what are you going to do ? " cried Esau, 
as Mr. Dempster seized him by the collar. 

" ril show you what I'm going to do, you idle 
young scoundrel," cried Mr. Dempster, and he reached 
out his hand to take his stout cane from where it lay 
across his hat. 

" Here, don't you hit me," cried Esau ; and he 
tried to get away, as I sat breathless, watching all 
that was going on, and thinking that Mr. Dempster 
dared not use the walking cane in the way he seemed 
to threaten. Esau evidently thought he would, for 
he struo^gled hard now, but m vain, and he was 



dragged towards the chair. Then, as pulling seemed 
no use, the lad changed his tactics, and he darted 
forward to make for the door, just as Mr. Dempster's 
hand was touching the stick, Avhichhe did not secuie, 

C 



34 TO THE WEST. 

for the jerk he received sent cane and hat off the 
chair on to the floor. 

"You dog !" roared Dempster, as the hat went on 
to the oilcloth with a hollow bang. 

" Don't you hit me ! " cried Esau, struggling wildly 
to escape ; and the next moment, as they swayed to 
and fro, I heard a strange crushing sound, and on 
looking to see the cause, there lay Mr. Dempsters 
beautiful guinea-and a half hat crushed into a shape- 
less, battered mass. 

" Ah ! " roared Mr. Dempster, " you dog ; you did 

that on purpose. 



)) 



" I didn't/' cried Esau ; *' it was your foot did it.'* 
" Was it ? was it ? " snarled Mr. Dempster, and the 

struggle recommenced, until I, with the perspii*ation 

standing on my forehead, caught tightly hold of the 

desk. 

Esau was pretty strong, but he was almost helpless 

in the hands of the angry man who held him, and 

the struggle ended, after the high stool and the chair 
had both been knocked over with a crash, by Mv, 
Dempster's getting Esau down and holding iiim there 

with one knee upon his chest. 

" Hah 1 " he ejaculated, panting, ^' Here you, 
Gordon, get down and pick up my cane," and he 
gave his head a jerk in the direction of where the 
stick lay, just as it had been knocked close to the 
door. 

Months of rigid obedience to the tyrant had their 
effect, and I got down from my stool trembling with 
excitement. 

*'0h, don't, dont, Gordon!" ciiod Esau; *' don't 
give it him." 



HOW MR. DEMPSTER USED HIS CANE. 35 

But my employer's eyes were fixed upon me with 
such a look that I was fascinated, and as if moved 
against my own will, I crossed the office and picked 
up the thick cane. 

'* Give it here, quick ! " 

For I stood there hesitating, but the imperative 
voice mastered me, and I moved towards the speaker. 

" Don't don't give it him," cried Esau. 

" Quick — this instant ! " roared Mr. Dempster, and 
I handed the cane. 

''You sneak! "cried Esau pugrily; "I'd ha died 
first." 

His words sent a stincr throu2:h me, and I would 
have given anything to have been able to say, " I 
couldn't help it^ Esau." But I was speechless^ and 
felt the next instant as if a blow had fallen upon me, 
as I saw with starting eyes TSlr. Dempster shift his 
position, keeping a tight hold of Esau by the collar 
as he rose into a stooping position^ and then, whizz ! 

thud ! he brought the cane down with all his force 
across the lad's shoulders. 

Esau uttered a yell as he tried to spring up, but 
he was held fast, and the bIo^\s were fallinf^ thick 
and fast upon the struggling lad, when I could bear 
it no longer, and with one bound I was at the 
auctioneer, and had fast hold of the cane. 

"Stop!" I shouted, half hysterically; *' you shan't 
beat him. You have no right to do it, sir. Esau, 
get up. Run ! " 

" Let go ! " cried Mr. Dempster, turning a face 
black with passion at me. "Do you hear, beggar? 
Let go!" 

"I will not," I cried, for my blood was up now, 



36 TO THE WEST. 

and I did not feel in the least afraid. " You have 
no right to beat him/' 
" Let go ! " 

" Don't, don't, Gordon ! Yah ! you great cowai-d ! " 
" Once more, will you let go ? " cried Mr. Demp- 
ster, as he stood with one hand in Esau's collar, 
bent down, and tugging at the cane, to which I 
clung. 

*'No," I cried. "You shall not strike him again." 
I had hardly spoken when Mr. Dempster rose up, 
loosening his hold of Esau, and dashing his free hand 
full in my face, while, as I fell back, he jerked the 
cane away and struck at me a cruel stinging blow 
from the left shoulder, as a cavalry-man would use a 
sabre, the cane striking me full across the right ear, 
while the pain was as acute as if the blow had been 
delivered by a keen-edged sword. 

For a few moments I staggered back, half stunned 



and confused, while blow succeeded blow, now 
delivered on my back and arms with all his might. 

As I said, the first cruel, cowardly blow half 
stunned me ; those which followed stung me back 
into a wild state of rage and pain which made me 
reckless and blind, as, regardless of pain and the 
fact that he was a well knit, strong man, I made a 
dash at the cane, got hold of it with both hands, and 
in spite of his efforts kept my grip of the stout elastic 
stick. 

I knew that I was swung here and there, and the 

cane was tugged at till the ivory handle fell on the 

floor, and then he changed his attack, letting go of 

the cane with one hand and catching me by the 
throat. 



HOW MR. DEMPSTER USED HIS CANE. 37 

" Now then/' he cried, and I felt that I was 

mastered. 

Then I knew I was wrong, for at that moment 

Mr. Dempster was driven forward, his forehead strik- 
ing mine, and as I fell back my assailant fell on his 
knees, and I stood panting, the master of the cane. 

The explanation was simple. Esau had watched 
his opportunity, and leaped upon our tyrant's back, 
pinning his arms to his sides, and making him in 
his surprise loosen his hold of the cane. 

It is hard work to recall it qow, so wild and con- 
fused it all seems ; but I remember well that I must 
have struck Mr. Dempster, and that as he came at 
me Esau seized and overturned the great desk right 
in his way, sending him down again, while the next 
moment my fellow cleik was holding open the door, 
shouting to me to come. 

I caught down my hat and Esau's, and made for 
the door, which Esau dragged to in our employer's 
face, and 'the next minute we were tearing up the 
lane. 

"Stop them! stop thief!" was shouted hoarsely, 
and in our excitement we looked back to see our 
enemy in pursuit, while, as we turned again to run, 
we found ourselves face to face with a burly City 
policeman, who cauglit each of us by an arm. 



J^ 




CHAPTER V. 



A MISERABLE NIGHT. 



tt 




AH! The scoundrels!" panted Demp- 



ster, as be came up, flushed, bareheaded, 
his glossy coat covered with dust, and 

dark weal growinor darker 



a 



great 



growing 



moment by moment on his forehead, while for the 
first time I became aware of the fact that my right 
ear was cut and bleeding freely 

"What is it, sir?" said the policeman; and I 
shivered slightly as I felt his grip tighten on my 

arm. 

*'Take them. I give them in charge/' panted Mr. 
Dempster, hoarse with rage — ' robbery and assault." 

"What?" shouted Esau, furiously. 

" It is not true ! " I cried wildly. 

"Tako them;' shouted Mr. Dempster. '' I'll follow 

in a cab. Take them." 

" You'll have to charge them, sir," said the 

constable. 

"Yes. I know. I must make myself decent 

first. 



JJ 



" You can do that afterwards, sir. Better all get 
in a cab at once before there's a crowd." 



A MISERABLE NIGHT. 39 

The cool matter-of fact policeman was master of 
the situation, and, summoning a cab, he seemed to 
pack us all in, and followed to unpack us again a 
few minutes later, both Esau and I with the spirit 
evaporating fast, and feeling soft and limp, full of 
pain too, as we were ushered into the presence of a 
big, stern looking inspector, who prepared to fill up 

a form. 

AH that passed is very misty now ; but I remember 
Mr. Dempster, as he glared at us, telling the inspector 
that he had had cause to complain about our conduct, 
and tliat we had, evidently after planning it, made 
a sudden attack upon him, and beaten him savagely 
with a stick. 

" But you said robbery, sir, ' the policeman sug- 
gested, 

" Ah ! — I will not press that,^' cried Mr. Dempster. 

"I don't want to quite ruin the boys. I proceed 
against tbem for nssniilt." 

I looked wildly at Esau for him to speak out, and 
he was looking at me as if half stupefied. The next 
I recollect is that the big policeman signed to us to 
follow him, and we were marched away. 

Then we were in a whitewashed eel], a door was 
bano-ed to, and we heard the bolts shot. 

For a few minutes I stood tliere as if stunned, but 
was brought back to myself by Esau. 

"Well." he said loudly, "this is a nice game." 

" Oh, Esau ! " I said weakly. 

** Yes, it is 'Oh ! ' " he cried. '' What will my mother 
say ? " 

I could not answer — only look at him in the dim 
light hopelessly, and feeling in my mental and 



40 TO THE WEST. 

bodily pain as if everything was over for me in this 
"woild. 

To my horror Esau burst into a heavy fit of 
laughter, and sitting down he rocked himself to and 
fro. 

" What a game 1 " he cried ; *' but, I say, you 
didn't half give it to him/' 

'' Oh, Esau ! '' I cried, " it's horrible." 

''For him," he replied. "I say, I'm precious stiff 
and sore though ; did he hurt you very much ?" 



a 



Yes- mv arms aohe and my ear bleeds Esau 
we shall never be able to go back." 

'' Hooray!" cried my companion defiantly. "Who 
wants to? But that isn't the worst of it; he will 
not pay us our wages." 

" No," I said ; " and we shall be punished." 

"Then it's a jolly shame; for he ought to be 
punished for hitting us. I say, can't we have a 
summons ac^ainst him for assaultinj^ us?" 

'' I don't know," I said, wondering. " How my 
head does ache !" 

''Some one coming," whispered Esau. 

For there were heavy footsteps, and the bolts were 
drawn. Then the door opened, to show the inspector 
and the big policeman. 

"Here, boy," said the foimer roughly, "let me 
lo )k at youv ear. 

I was holding my handkerchief to the place, which 
was bleeding a good deal. 

" Better have the doctor," he said. 

" What, for that I Only wants bathing and some 



J) 



sticking-plaster. 
He smiled. 



}} 



A MISERABLE NIGHT. 41 

" Well, we shall see," he said, looking at me 
curiously. " What did you do with the money ? '* 

'^ What money?" 

"That Mr. Dempster said you took." 

"He didnt take any!" cried Esau indignantly. 
" He knocked us about, and we hit him again, and 
he got the worst of it." 

" Oh, that's it, is it ? Come, my lad, that's not 
true." 

" It is, sir, indeed," I said earnestly. 

" Rnt look at your handkerchief. Seems to me 

you got the worst of it." 

" Oh, that's nothing," I said. 

''You had a reaular scrimmao-o, then ?" 

"Yes, sir," I said; and I told him exactly how it 

happened. 

" Humph !" ejaculated the inspector, when I had 
finished, " I dare say you will not get more than 
seven years." 

** Seven years, sir ! " cried E.sau. " What for ? 
Old Demp ought to get it, not us," 

" You must tell the Lord Mayor that, or the 
alderman, to-morrow. 

" But are we going to be kept in prison, sir ? " I 
asked, with my courage sinking. 

"You are going to be locked up he^-e till to 
morrow, of course. Like to have a ^ood wash ? 

Of course we said " Yes," and before long we 
looked fairly respectable again, with the exception 
of scratches, bruises, and the ugly cut I had on my 
ear. 

The thing that encouraged me most was the way 
in which I saw the inspector and constable exchange 



)j 



f> 



42 TO THE WEST. 

a smile, while later on they and the other constables 
about gave us a good tea with bread and butter and 
meat, and we had to tell all our adventures again 
before we were locked up for the night, after 
refusing an offer that was made. 

" Think we ought to have sent 1 " said Esau, as 
we sat together alone. 

" I have no one I could send to but Mr. John, 
and I shouldn't like to do that," I said, as I wondered 
the while whether he would be very angry. 

"And IVe got nobody but mother," said Esau, 
"and that's ^\hat made it so queer." 

" What do you mean ? Queer ? " 

" Yes, if I sent to her and she knew I was locked 
up at the station, she'd come running down here in 
a dreadful fright and be having fits or something." 

"But shell be hoiribly frightened now !'' 

"Not so much frightened. She'll think we've 
gone to see somethings or been asked out to supper." 

"But she'll sit up." 

"That won't matter, because she's sure to go to 
sleep." 

So no message was sent — no opportunity afforded 
of our having bail ; but after a time this did not 
trouble us much. In fact, as we were discussing our 
future in a low tone, w^ondering what punishment 
would be meted out to us, and what we could do 
afterwards, Esau burst into a fit of laughter, 

" It was fine," he said, as he sat afterwards wiping 
his eyes. "And you such a quiet, patient fellow 1" 

"What was fine?'' 

" To see you go on as you did. I say, I wonder 
what hell say to the judge 



'i •' 



A MISERABLE NIGHT. 43 

" We shall not go before a judge/' I told him. 

" Well, madjistrit then. He'll say anything, and 
youll see if we don't get sent to prison." 

I said I hoped not^ but I felt pretty sure that we 
should be punished very severely, and the outlook 
seemed so bad that I began to think my only chance 
would be to follow Esau's fortune, and go for a soldier. 

All at once, just after he had been wondering how 
long *' mother " would be before she dropped off to 
sleep, and what she would say when she found that 

we had not been iiome^ T hpomne aware nf a low 

dull guttural sound, which told me that Esau had 
dropped off, and was sleeping soundly. 

But I could not follow his example for thinking. 
What would Mr. John say ? What would Mrs. John 
think? They would set me down as a reckless lad 
with a savage temper, and if we were punished they 
would never know the truth. Then another idea, 
one which made me shiver, occurred to me; the 
whole account would be in the newspapers, given as 
Police Intelligence, and that completely baffled all 
my attempts to sleep. 

It was a very quiet night at the station. I heard 
doors opened and closed twice over, with a good 
deal of talking ; and once while I was thinking most 
deeply, I started and stared curiously at a bright 
blaze of light, beyond which I could not see ; but I 
felt that a constable had that light in his hand, and 
that he had come to see if we were asleep. 

I had not heard the door open, I suppose I was 
thinking too deeply ; but I heard it shut again, and 
heavy steps in the long stone passage outside. Then 
I began thinking again intently, full of remorse for 



44 TO THE WEST. 

what I had done, and how soon it would be morning; 
and then I began to envy Esau, who could sleep so 
soundly in spite of our position. 

I reaiember it all — ^the trampling of feet outside, 
the dull mutterini:^ of voices, and the curious guttural 
sound Esau made as he slept, one that I was often 
to hear in years to come ; and I sat there with my 
head resting in a corner, envying him, and wishing 
that I too could forget. And over and over again 
came the events of the past day — the struggle in 
the office, and the savacre, malicious look of Mr 
Dempster as he struck me. 

Weary, aching, and with my head throbbing, I 
sat and wondered now at my daring ; and tlien came 
all kinds of inental questions as to the amount of 
punishment I, a poor boy, would receive. 

All at once, as these miserable thoughts kept on 
repeating themselves in a strange, feverish way, that 
was somehow connected with a throbbing, smarting 
sensation in one ear, Mr. Dempster seemed to have 
raised me by tlie arm once more, and to begin 
shaking me roughly — so vigorously that I made a 
desperate effort to escape, when he cried — 

" Steady, steady ! You're all right. Come, rouse 
up and have a wash, my lad. It's nearly eight. 
Ready for some coffee and bread and butter 1 " 

I looked up in the dim light to see the big, burly 
policeman leaning over me, while Esau was giving 
vent to a noisy yawn. It was morning, in<leed, and 
though not aware of the fact, I must have slept 
about seven hours. 



CHAPTER VI. 




AN ESCAPE, AND A SUGGESTION. 

DON'T know whether I was any more 
cowardly than most boys of my age ; 
but I certainly felt a curiously nervous 
sensation that morning, and I was not 
alone in it; for Esau had a strange scared look, and 
his fair hair did not curl nearly so tightly as usual. 

" Eh ? " he said, " feel frightened ? " in answer to 
a question. " No, I don't think I do ; but I wish 
they'd leave the door open so that a fellow could 



run." 



But there were no doors open for us to escape, and 
at last, after a weary time of waiting, the big police- 
man who had us in his charge bent down to us in 
the place where we were waiting, and said 

"Your case fomes on next. There, hold up, my 
lads. Speak out, both of you, like men, and tell the 
whole trutli. It's Sir Thomas Browning to day." 

I listened to him, but I felt as if I was growing 
hopelessly confused, and that I should never be able 
to say a word in my defence, while when I looked 
at Esau, I found that he was looking at me with 
his forehead full of wi inkles. 



46 TO THE WEST. 

" It's all very -well for him to say ' hold up.' He 
haven't got to be tried," he whispered. " Tm 'fraid 
it's all up with us, Gordon. Wish we could be 
together when they sends us off," 

"Now then!" said the policeman, clapping me 
on the shoulder ; " it's us. Don't you be scared. 
Sir Thomas is a good 'un." 

The next minute Esau and I were standing some- 
where with our constable close by, and somewhere 
before us, in places that looked like pews, sat a 
number of gentlemen, some of whom wore wigs. 
Some were writing, and, seen as it were through a 
mist, a number of people looking on. Next, in a 
confused way, I saw a red faced, white headed gentle- 
man, who took off his spectacles to have a good look 
at us, and put them on again to read a paper before 
him. 

It was all dim and strange, and there was quite 
a singing in my ears, as I looked vacantly aboiit 
while some talking went on, ending by a voice 
saying— 

'' Kiss the book." 

Then the white headed old gentleman said 

" Well, Mr. Dempster, what have you to say ? " 

At the name Dempster, I started and looked 
sharply about me, to see that my employer was a 
little way off, very carefully dressed, and with a 
glossy hat in his hand. 

*' That can't be the hat," I remember thinking, 
as I stared at him wildly. 

The mist had cleared away now, and I stood 
listening to him as he went on speaking, in a very 
quiet subdued way, about the troubles he had had 



;j 



AN ESCAPE, AND A SUGGESTION. 47 

with the two defendants — boys whom he had taken 
into his service out of kindness. 

" Yes, yes, 3 es, Mr. Dempster," said the old gentle- 
man testily; "but this isn't a sale of house property. 
There's a very long charge sheet. You have given 
these two lads into custody on a charge of assault. 
Now, shortly, please, how did it happen ? " 

*'The fact is, your worship," said Mr. Dempster, 
"I have had much trouble witfi both of them. The 
boy Dean is idle in the extreme, while Gordon is a 
lad of vile and passionate temper. 

" Well, sir— well, sir ? " 

" I had occasion to speak to them yesterday about 
idling in my absence, the consequence being that 
a great many mistakes were made." 

"Alius careful as I could be," said Esau, in an 

ill-used tone. 

"Silence, sir I How dare you?" cried the old 
gentleman. "You shall be heard presently. Now, 
Mr. Dempster, please go on. 

" I was angry, Sir Thomas, and I scolded them 
both severely, when to my utter surprise — stop, I 
will be perfectly accurate — things had come to such 
a pass that I had threatened them with dismissal- 
when in a fit of passion Dean struck my new hat 
from a chair on which it was laid, jumped upon it, 
and crushod it" 

" Oh, what a whopper 1 " cried Esau, excitedly. 

" Will you be silent, sir ? " cried the old gentle- 
man, tapping the desk in front of him with his 
knuckles. 

"Here is the hat, Sir Thomas,'' said Mr. Dempster, 
and stooping down he held up his ciushed and beaten 



jj 



48 TO THE WEST. 

head -covering in coiroboration of his words, when a 
perfect roar of laughter ran round the court, and I 
saw the old gentleman lift his glasses and smile. 

" AYell, Mr. Dempster, well ? " he said. 

"Then, Sir Thomas, then, to my utter astonish- 
ment, evidently by collusion, Gordon seized my 
Malacca cane, and the boy Dean shouted to him to 

come on now, and they made a combined attack 
upon me, breaking off the handle of my cane, in- 
flicting the injuries you see, and but for my energetic 
defence I believe they would have robbed me and 

gone off. Fortunately I was able to call for the 
police, and give them into custody." 

" Well, of all — " began Esau ; bufc the old alderman 
turned upon him sharply. 

"I shall commit you, sir, for contempt of court," 
he cried. 

" But he is telling such — " 

" Silence, sir ! '' 

" Quiet, you young donkey," whispered the police- 
,man. " Hsh ! " 

" Hm ! Mr. Dempster, Mr. Dempster," said the 
old gentleman, "this is a police court, not an 
auctioneer's rostrum." 

" I beg your pardon, Sir Thomas," said Mr. 
Dempster, with dignity. 

fr 

" You are sworn, sir, and I wished to remind you 
that this is not a rostrum. You auctioneers are 
licensed gentlemen, and you do exaggerate a little 
sometimes. Are you not doing so now ? " 

" Look at my face, Sir Thomas. My arm is terribly 
strained.*' 

"Um — yes, but it does not sound reasonable to 



AN ESCAPE, AND A SUGGESTION. 49 

me, as an old man of the world who has had much 
to do with boys." 

'*I have stated my case, Sir Thomas," said Mr. 
Dempster in an ill used tone. 

"Are you sure that you did not use the cane first 
yourself ? " 

I I will not swear I did not, Sir Thomas. I 



'^i X Will 111, 



was very angry. 

" Hah ! yes," said the old gentleman, nodding his 
head. "Now, boy, speak the truth. This is a very 
serious business; what have you to say?" 

"Got hold of me, sir, and was going to hit me, 
and we wrestled, and the hat was knocked over, and 
the stick, and he trod on his 'at, sir, and I sings out 
to Mayne Gordon — this is him, sir — to take the stick 
away, but he got it, sir, and I calls out to Gordon 

not to let him thrash me." 

" Gently, gently," cried the old gentleman, holding 
up his hands, for Esau's words came pouring out in 
a breathless way, and every one was laughing. 

" No, sir, not a bit gently ; ard, sir, awful ! and I 
can show the marks, and Gordon — that's him, sir 
says he'd no business to 'it his mate, and he 'it him, 
and then Gordon got hold of the cane and held on, 
and Mr. Dempster, he got it a^^ ay again, and cut him 
across the ear, sir, and it blei pints, and 'it him 
again, and then I went at him and held him, and 
Gordon got the cane away and 'it 'im, sir, and then 
we ran away, and the police took us and locked us 
up, and that's all." 

"And enough too," said Sir Thomas good-humour- 
edly. " There, hold your tongue. Now, you, sir, what 
have you to say ? — the same as your companion ? " 



50 TO THE WEST. 

"Tm very sorry, sir/' I said huskily; and tlien 
a feeling of indignation seemed to give me strength, 
and I continued, " What Esau Dean says is all true. 
Mr. Dempster has behaved cruelly to us, and I could 
not stand still and see him beat Esau. I only tried 
to hold the stick so that he should not strike him, 
and then he hit me here, and here, and then I think 
I got hold of it, and — I don't remember any more, 
sir. I'm very sorry now." 

"I ain't/' said Esau defiantly. 

"Do you want me to send you to prison, sir?" 
cried the old gentleman. 

"No, sir." 

'* Then hold your tongue. Any witnesses, con- 
stable ? " 

" No, Sir Thomas." 

'' Humph ! Well, really, Mr Dempster, from what 
I know of human nature, it seems to me that these 
lads have both spoken tbe trutb " 

" Incorrigible young scoundrels, Sir Thomas/' 
*' No, no, no ! Excuse me, I think not. A boy 
is only a very young man, and there is a great re- 
sponsibility in properly managing them. The marks 
upon tliese lads show that they have had a very 
cruel attack made upon them by somebody. You 
confessed that you struck one of them. Well, I am 
not surprised, sir, that one took the other s part. I 
say this, not as a magistrate, but as a man. You 
have to my mind, sir, certainly been in the wrong- 
so have they, for they had their remedy if they were 
ill-used by applying to a magistrate. So understand 
this, boys — I do not consider you have done right, 
though I must own that you had great provocation." 



AN ESCAPE, AND A SUGGESTION. 51 

"Then am I to understand, sir," began Mr. Demp- 
ster, in a very different tone of voice to that which 
he had before used, ^' that you are not going to 
punish these young scoundreh?" 

"Have the goodness to recollect where you are, 
sir," said the old alderman sternly. "Yes, sir, I 
dismiss the case." 

"Then a more contemptible mockery of justice," 
roared Mr. Dempster, " I never saw." 

"Exactly," said the old alderman, quietly; "your 
words, Mr. Dempster, quite endorse my opinion. 
You are a man of ungovernable temper, and not fit 

to have charge of boys." 

" Then " 

" That will do, sir. The next case." 

" I should like to shake hands with that old chap," 
whispered Esau; and then aloud, as he tossed his 
cap in the air, '•' Hooray ! " 

There was a roar of laughter in the court, and the 

old alderman turned very fiercely upon Esau, and 
shook his head at him, but I half fancy I saw him 
smile, as he turned to a gentleman at his side. 

Tlien in the midst of a good deal oi bustle in the 
court, and the calling of people's names, the police- 
man hurried us both away, and soon after stood 
shakiucj hands with us both. 

"You've both come off splendid, my lads," he said, 
"and I'm glad of it. Old Sir Thomas saw through 
Master Dempster at once. ] know him; he's a 
bad 'un regular bully. One of his men Dingle, 
isn't his name ^ has often told me about him." 

"Ah, you dont know half," said Esau. 

"Quite enough, anyhow," said the constable, 



52 TO THE WKST. 

clapping Esau on the shoulder; "and you take my 
advice, don't you go back to him." 

"No," said Esau; "he wouldn't have us if we 
wanted." 

'* What are you going to do, then ? " 

"Join the Royal Artillery/' said Esau, importantly. 

"Join the Royal Nonsense, boy!" said the big, 
blutr constable. " Better be a p. c. than that. 
Plenty of gents in the city want clerks." 

*' Then," said Esau, ' they shan't have me." 

But he did not say it lo id enough for the constable 
to hear, the words being meant for me, and after 
once more shaking hands with us the man said, 
"Good-bye," and we were out in the busy streets 
once more as it seemed to me, the only two lads 
in London with nothing to do. 

I was walking along by Esau's side, low spirited 
in spite of our ac(;[uittal, for everything seemed so 
novel and stiange, when Esau, who had been whistling, 
looked round at me. 



"Now then," 


he 


said, 


"uill 


you 


come 


wi th 


me ( 














"Where?" 















"Woolwich. Tilleiy." 

" No. And you are not going." 

" Ob, ain't I ? " 

"No," I said. " You aie going home. Your 
mother must be very anxious about us." 

" I'd forgotten all about her, ' cried Esau. " I say, 
look : here's old Demp." 

If I had obeyed my first inclination I should h.ive 
turned down the hrbt street to avoid our late 
employer; but I kept on boldly, as he came towards 



AN ESCAPE. AND A SUGGESTION 53 

US, and I expected that he would go by, but he 
.stopped short, and looked from one to the other. 

"Oh, here you are," he said; '*look out, my lads, 
I have not done yet. If you think I am going to be 
beaten like this, you are " 

"Come on, Esau," I whispered, and we did not 
hear the end of his threat. 

"There!" cried Esau. "Now what do you say? 

He'll be giving us into custody again. 'Tillery's our 

only chance. He daren't touch us there. But I 
say, he isn't croino^ bnck to the office Let's run .ind 

get what's in our desks. Thers's my old flute." 
" I thought you did not want to be given into 

custody again ? " I cried. " Wliy, if we go and try to 

touch anything there, and he catches us, he is sure 

to call in the police." 

" Never thought o' that," said Esau, rubbing one 

ear. " I say, don't be a coward. Come on down to 

Woolwich." 

"You go on directly to your motlicr and tell her 

all about it. 

" I say, don't order a fellow about like that. You 

ain't master," 

'• You do as I tell you," I said, firmly 

"Oh, very well," he replied, in an ill used tone. 
" If you say I am to, I suppose 1 must. \V(m't you 

come too ? 

" No ; I'm going up to see Mr. John Dempster to 
tell him all about it, and ask him to give me his 
advice. 



jj 



n 



7) 



"Ah, it's all very fine," grumbled E'^au ; "it's 
always Mr. John Dempster now. You used to mak^ 
me a friend and a^k my advice : now I'm nobody at 



54 TO THE WEST. 

all. You always was such a gentleman, and too 
fine for rae." 

" Don't talk like that, Esau," I said ; '* you hurt 

i) 

me. 

He turned and caught hold of my hand directly. 

"I didnt mean it," he said huskily. "On'y dont 
chuck me over. I won't go ftr a soldier if you don't 
want, but let's stick together." 

"I should like to, Esau," I said, "for IVe no 

friends but you and Mr. John." 

"Oh, I don't know 'bout friends/' he said, "I 
don't want to be friends, 'cause I'm not like you, but 
let's keep together. I'll do anything you want, and 
I'll always stick up for you, same as you did for me." 

" I should be an ungrateful brute if I did part 
from you, Esau, for I shall never forget how kind 
you and your mother have always 

" Don't ! don't I don't ! " he cried, putting his fingers 
in his ears. " Now you're beginning to preach at 
me, and you know I hate that. I say, let's call at 
the auction-rooms and say good-bye to old Dingle. 
Dempster won't be there." 

I hesitated, and then hurried down the next street 
with Esau, for I thought I should like to say a 
friendly word to the porter, who had always been 
pleasant and kind, little thinking how it would 
influence my future career. 

He was just inside the long sale room, and he 
came out to us directly to shake hands glee- 

fully. 

" All right, lads," he cried. " I knov/ all about it. 
I was there, and heard every word. Serve him 
precious well right ! Ah, you're lucky ones. Wish 



AN ESCAPE, AND A SUGGESTION. 55 

I was out of his service. What are you both going 
to do ? " 

"I don't know," I said sadly, "Esau here wants 
to be a soldier." 

"Yes, he always was mad that way. Don't you 

listen to him." 

** Better be a soldier than old Demp's clerk." 

"Don't you be too sure, my lad," said Dingle. 
** There are such things as drill-sergeants in the 
army, and they tell me they're a kind of Double 
Dempsters. It's awkward for you, Master Gordon. 
You see, you'll have to send to the guv'nor for a 
reference when you try for another place, and ho 
won't give you one, see if he does." 

"No," I said sadly, "there is no chance there. 
What would you do ? 

" Well," he said, taking off his carpet cap, and 
stroking his thin grey hair, " it's easy to advise any- 
body, but it ain't easy to advise right." 

"Never mind," I said, ''try." 

"Well, sir, speaking as a poor man, if I was like 
you, out of a 'gagement, and no character 'ccpt for 
being able to thrash your own master- 



;j 



}} 



'* Oh, Dingle ! " I cried. 

" Well, sir, it's true enough," he said ; and he 
bent down to indulge in a long silent fit of 
laughter. 

" Don't do that/' I said uneasily, " it's nothing to 
laugh at." 

"Well, 'tis, and it 'tisn't, sir," said Dingle, wiping 
his eyes on the corner of his apron. 

"What would you do if you were out of an 
engagement ? " 



56 TO THE WEST. 

" Me ? I should do what my brother did 
h emigrate." 

" Your brother did, Ding ? To a nice place ? " 
cried Esau. 

" Yes, my lad, and he's getting on fine." 

"Then why didn't you go too, and get on fine ? " 

"'Cause I've got a houseful o' children, and nearly 
all gals. That's why, Clevershakes." 

*' But what does your brother do ? " I said eagerly. 
" Is he an auctioneer's porter ? " 

"Love and bless your heait, Mr. Gordon, sir, no," 
he cried. " I don't believe there's such a thing over 
there. He went out in the woods, and got a bit o' 
land give him, and built hisself a log house, and 
made a garden, and got cows, and shoots in the 
woods." 

"Here, hold hard, Ding," cried Esau, excitedly; 

*' that'll do. Goes shooting in the woods ? " 

"Yes, and gets a deer sometimes, ond one \\ inter 
he killed a bear and two wolves, my lad." 

*' That's the place," cried Esau. " Hooroar ! Come 
on, Master Gordon, let's go there." 

Dincfle lavished. 

" Hark at him, sir. What a one he is ! Why, 
you don't know even where it is." 

"I don't care where it is," cried Esau. "You 
say you can go there, and get some land, and live 
in the woods, and make your OAvn house, and shoot 
bears and wolves that's just the thing I should 
like to do." 

*' Why, you said you wanted to jyne the Ryle 
Artilleree." 

" Yes, but I didn't know of this place then. 



AN ESCAPE, AND A SUGGESTION. 57 

Where is it? How do yoii go? You'll come too, 
won*t you ? " 

" I don't know/' I said, slowly, for my imagination 
was also fired by the idea of living m such a land of 
liberty as that. In fact, as I spoke, bright pictures of 
green foiests and foaming rivers and boats began to 
form in my mind. " Yes/' I cried, " I tljink I should 

like to go/' 

" Hooroar ! Where is it, Ding ? " 

" Oh, my brother's in Bri'sh Columbia, but it's a 
long, long way." 

" Oh, we don't mind that," cried Esau. *' How do 
you get there ?" 

"Him and his wife and their boy went eight or 
nine year ago. Sailed in a ship from the docks, and 
it took 'em five months." 

" Oh ! " said Esau, in a disappointed tone. " Five 
months ! Why, I didn't think there was anywhere 
so far off as that/' 

"Ah! but there is, and in one letter he told me 
that a man he knew was once a year going, but he 
went in a waggon instead of a ship." 

" Get out .' He's gammoning us," cried Esau. " You 
can't drive a waggon over the sea/' 

" Who said you could, Clevershakes ? " said Dingle 

then turning to me, "He went over io Canady by 
ship, and then all acrost the prayerees in a waggon 

■lots o' waggons all together, because o' the 
Injins." 

*' Fire-injins ? " said Esau, eagerly. 

" No. Dunno though/' said Dingle, grinning ; 
"they did fire at 'em a deal." 

"Red Injins!" cried Esau. "Oh, I say, I think 



58 TO THE WEST. 

I'd rather go that way, because there'd be some 

fighting/' 

" What, ain't you had fightin' enough, boy ? Want 
to get at it again ? What yer thinking about, Mr. 
Gordon ? " 

I started, for my thoughts were far away. 
" I was thinking about your brother," I said, 
hastily, 

" Ah ! but such a life wouldn't do for you, my lad. 
There's no clean hands out there — leastwise I dessay 
they're clean sometimes. What I mean is, it's 
always hard, rough work, and no setting on a stuffed 
seat and writing on bloo paper. Why, what do you 
think my brother had for chairs in his house ? " 
'* Boxes," I said. 

" No, boxes made tables. Stumps of wood — logs 
cut off a fir tree — no castors on them, my lad." 
" British Columbia ? " I said, thoughtfully, as I tried 

to Tpmembpr whprfi that ponntry was nn thp map, 

and I am afraid getting a very hazy notion as to its 
position. 

"Yes, my lad, Bri'sh Columbia; and if you go out 
there and mention my name, my brother will be glad 
enough to see you, I know. There — I must get to 
work 'fore the guv'nor catches me, or p'r'aps there'll 
be another fight, and me wanting a fresh place too." 

So we shook hands, promising to go and see him 
again, and directly after Esau and I parted, he going 
south for home, I going north, and feeling a curious 
sensation of shrinking as I neared Mr. John 
Dempster's home. 



CHAPTER VII 



MY FKIENDS PLANS. 




HEY were both in the little sitting room, 
when Maria, who had given me a very 
indignant look for dragging her down 
to the gate, announced the visitor and 

went away, closing the door more loudly than was 
necessary, and the reception I had was very warm 
as they both rose from where they had been turning 
over some letters together. 

"Why, Mayne," cried Air. John, ''this is an un- 
expected pleasure," and he made way for Mrs. John, 
who took my hand, smiling in her gentle way, and 
then turning serious and eager as she exclaimed 

" There is something the matter ? " 

I nodded, for I could not speak. 

"Some trouble with — my cousin ? " 

"Yes, sir" I said, hoarsely; and for a few minutes 
the words would not come, the incidents of the past 
twenty four hours having upset me more than I was 
aware. 

"Don't hurry, my boy, don't hurry; and don't 
question him, Alexes. Did ycu walk up?*' 



te 



Yes, sir," 



60 TO THE WEST. 

"Ah, a nice day for walking. We two ought to 
have had ours, but some letters a little business 
kept us in. We have had a very long conimunica 
tion from my wife's brother, and it necessitates a 
great deal of thinking at our time of life." 

"I I have left Mr. Dempster, sir," I said. 

" Indeed ! I am not surprised, Mayne, and bless 
me ! what is the matter with your ear ? " 

The words came now, and ] told him everything, 
while before I had half got through my narrative, 
Mr. John was upon his legs tramping excitedly up 
and down the little room^ and uttering angry ejacula 
tions from time to time. 

"You — you are not very angry with me ?" 

*' Angry ! " he cried. " I am more than angry that 
such a thing could have happened, and the principal 
actor in it have been one who bears the same name 
as myself. It is cruel scandalous — disgraceful; 
and above all, to have exposed you to such -^n in- 
dignity in custody like a common thief I But there, 
you shall not continue in his office." 

I could not help giving him rather a droll look. 

" Of course, sir," I said, *' I am discharged." 

" Yes, yes, I had forgotten that, ' he said, hurriedly. 
" You must have a better post one more suited to 
your abilities. Now, let me see let me see what 
steps ought I to take first ? Something in the city, 
perhaps, or I would rather see you in one of the 
Government offices." 

I looked at him wonderingly, as he sat down at 
the table now, and taking up a letter, used it to tap 
on the polished wood. 

"Yes, I think in one of the Government offices," 



5IY riai:M)s' pl.uvs. 61 

he continued, while I glanced now at Mrs. John, 
whose face was full of the lines caused by her 
thoughts. 

As she met my eyes, she gave me a piteous look, 
and shook her head sadly, as if saying something by 
way of warning. 

"Yes, I thmk decidedly one of the Government 
offices, my dear, but which ? ' 

As he spoke he raised his eyes and looked at 
Mrs. John, who met his gaze with one so full of 
loving tendei-npss tJint if- i?i)pre;3sed me, and t' c 

more that I saw Avhat a change took place directly 
in Mr. John's countenance, ending by his looking 
down at the letter he held in his hand. 

"Ah," he exclaimed, "what a miserable dreamer 
I am ! Always the same ! Mayne, my boy/' he 
added, piteously, "you must not listen to me. I 
cannot even help myself, and here am I talking to 
you in this vain, foolish way." 

He let his head drop into his hands, and sat bent 
down till Mrs. John wcni to his side. 

*' Don't give way," I heard her whisper; "it was 
your good heart that spoke." 

" My good heart," he said piteously — " no, my 
weak, foolish, dreaming brain. It was always so, 
and I have brought you down to poverty like this." 

She bent lower, and whispered a few words which 
seemed quite to transform him 

"Yes," he cried, with his face flushing, "I am 
always ungrateful, and letting present troubles set 
benefits aside, Mayne, my boy, I wanted you to 
come and see us. I told you that we were going 
abroad — for my wife's health — I might say for my 



j; 



62 TO THE WEST. 

own/' he added, with a smile, " for I am no use liere 
in England." 

"And you are going, sir? ' I said, glad to find 
that the conversation was changing. 

"Yes; to join my dear wife's brother. He has 
sent us an invitation. He thinks I might like the 
life out there, and he is sure that it will give renewed 
health to his sister." 

" I am very glad, sir," I said, holding out my 
hands to both, " and — very sorry 

"To lose us/' said Mr. John. "Yes ; now we are 
getting to know each other so well, it will be 
painful." 

" Are you going to Canada, sir ? " I said, hastily, 
for the idea of losing almost my only friends chilled 
me. 

" To Canada first, then on by slow degrees to the 
great North-West. My brother-in-law — did I not 
tell you ? " 

I shook my head. 
He is in the service of the Hudson's Bay 
Company, chief at one of their stations in Biitish 
Columbia. 

"British Columbia ! " I exclaimed. 
Yes. What do you know of the country ^ " 

"Nothing, sir, only that one of Mr. Dempster's 
men has a brother there. But it is a rough place, 
wild, and there are forests. Mrs. John could not go 
there." 

" No place could be rough or wild to me, Mayne/' 
she said, smiling, " if I could find health and 
strength." 

" And you will there, dear," cried Mr. John 



a 



n 



ic 



MY friends' plans. 63 

excitedly, " Your brother says the country is lovely, 
and that the slow waggon journey across, though 
rough, will be invigorating. It will take many 
months, Mayne," he continued, speaking as eagerly 
and joyfully as a boy preparing for a holiday, 
"but my brother-in-law has sent us ample for our 
expenses, and he tells us to take our time, and 
once there I shall easily be able to repay him, 
either by assisting him, or by means of a farm 
Alexes, my darling, I feel now that nature meant 
me for a farmer, and at last I am going to 
succeed," 

"Nature meant you, John,' she replied, with a 
look of pride at him, " for what you are, what you 
always have been, and will be," 

" A poor dreamer ? " 

" No, my dear husband — a gentleman.'* 

"I thought I was sorry as well as glad," I said, 
after a pause. "I om now v^ry glad. When do 
you go?" 

"As soon as we can make all the arrangements," 
said Mr. John. 

"But you cannot journey in a waggon by your- 
selves." 

*' We cannot ? " 

" No, sir ; you must join a party quite a caravan," 

" That is what Dan said in the letter, dear," said 
Mrs. John. 

" Of course. My head is in such a whirl. I had 
forgotten — but you, Mayne, you talk as if you 
understand all this." 

"I have beard, sir," I said, colouring a little; 
"that is all." 



04^ TO TRK WEST. 

"But you, my boy? — we can't go aud leave you 
in distress, and without an engagement." 



He whispered something to her. 

"I had thought the same," she said, gently; "but 
I did not think it right to propose it." 

** Not if he could do better here," cried Mr. John, 
excitedly. "Mayne, my boy, we have only known 
each other a few months, but it has been enough 
to make me understand you. My wife will vouch 
for me. It seems to me that you are alone, an 

orphan without a chance of raising yourself here " 

will you come with ub to try your fortune in the now 
land ? " 

" Would you take me with you ? " I cried, ex- 
citedly. 

''Take you, my boy?" he cried, "gladly; but, 
Alexes, speak for me, dear. I am so prone to let 
heart master judgment. Should I be doing right ? 
Should I be doing right ? " 

There was a silence in the little room which lasted 
for some minutes, and during that time the shouts 
of a party of lads engaged in some sport came ringing 
throuo'h the window. 

*' Yes," cried Mr. John, " you hear that — boys at 
play! It seems to me that our young friend here 
should be engaged as they are, and not be called 
upon to enter into the struggle for life away in some 
wild country." 

"But I have been at work now for years, Mr. 
John," I said. 

" Yes, my lad, I know, and I want to help you ; 
but misfortune has so marked me for her own that 
I seem now to have lo&t all faitli in myself 



MT friend's plans 65 

"Have yon no relatives, Mayne?" said ^Try. John, 
gravely. ''Theie are people who could lielp you to 
some eniTacrement ? " 

I shook my head. 

"None that I know of," I said. 



/ " 



"And when we are gone what will you do 

" Obtain some situation, I hope." 

"You hope, my boy. It is a poor prospect, thnt. 
I do not like to say, come with us to this new land, 
though I believe any enterprising lad would be sure 
to make his way." 

" Then why shouldn't I come ? " 

"Because prosperity will have to be fought for, 
and obtained at so great a cosl". Civilization has 
to be left behind. It will be a ronoh life." 

"Bnt if a delicate lady could bear it, why should 
not I ? " 

"I have told you why I could bear it," she said, 
smiling. "You must not judge hastily, Mayne. I 
am afraid to say gothq, 

" Would you both like me to come ? " I said, look- 
ing from one to the other. 

"For our own sakes, yes. For yours we are afraid 
to speak," said Mrs. John, and her husband nodded 
his acquiescence in her words. 

"Then I shall come," I said, firmly. "Not with 

you. I shall go by sea." 

" You will go ? " cried Mr. John, looking at me 
wonderingly. 

"Yes, sir; and perhaps I shall get there first.*' 

" But, my dear boy, how ? '* 

" I don^t know, sir," I said, laughing ; " I am going 
to talk to a man I know, and Oh, I had forgotten ! " 

E 



» 



66 TO THE WEST. 

" Forgotten what ? " 

" Esau," I said, " tlie lad who worked Avith me in 
the office." 

Mr. John looked at his wife in a perplexed way. 

" Let us think about it all," said Mrs. John. " This 
companion of yours Esau — do you like him ? " 

" Ohj yes/* I cried ; '' he has always been most 
kind, and he wants to go with me for us to be 
together." 

I did not grasp it so well then as I did afterwards, 
though I had an undefined feeling that my fellow- 
clerk's company would not be agreeable to them ; 
and when I left them that night, it was with the 
feeling that it was quite certain that my new friends 
would start, possibly before the month was out ; while 
as far as I was concerned, my prospects were very 
much as they were. 




CHAPTER VIII. 




A STARTLING ANNOUNCEMENT, 

HAT night when I got back to Camber- 
well, I found that not only had supper 
been ready above an hour, but Mrs. 
Dean and Esau were both waiting for 

me to join them. 

'* I thought we'd make a sort of a party of it," said 
Esau^^'only not ask anybody, so that we could enjoy 
ourselves, though if that policeman was anywhere 
near, and old Dingle wasn't so far off, I should like 
to have had them in." 

" Oh, I am glad you've come," cried Mrs. Dean, 
" for Esau has been going on so." 

" Only/' continued Esau, ignoring his mother's 
words, "you couldn't ask old Dingle without asking 
his wife and twelve children, and that would take 
such a lot of plates, without counting the pie mother's 
made, and that's only just enough for three." 

" But why have you got such a grand hot supper ? " 
I said. 

" Because of its being a holiday, and because we're 
going to make a fresh start in life over there in the 
woods." 



68 TO THE WEST. 

" Esau, my dear, don't, pray don't," whimpered his 
mother. " It was bad enough sitting up for you all 
night, and you not coming, but it's far worse when 
you will go on like that." 

"Come, sit down, Mr. GordcU. I'm as hungry as 
can be. Why you know you went to sleep, mother." 

'' I didn't, my deai". I never had a wink all night 
for expecting you," 

" Well, how could I help it, mother ? We should 
have been home safe enonsih if we hadn't been locked 
up in a dun John." 

"Yes, and my boy in custody — in prison. Oh 
dear me I oh dear me 1 " 

"Ah !" shouted Esau, striking the table hard with 
a spoon. " You dare to cry again, and I won't eat a 
bit of supper." 

*' But I can't help it, Esau," sobbed the poor little 
woman ; " I declare I've been seeing nothing but 

policemen and prisim vans ever since you told me 

where you had been." 

" All comes o' getting into bad company, mother," 
said Esau, cutting the steaming steak pie. " There ; 
that's an extra spoonful o' gravy for you if you promise 
not to cry." 

He passed a plate to where his mother sat, and 
began to help me. 

" Bad company's the ruin of all boys," contiimed 
Esau, laughing at me. ''Look at Mr. Gordon's ear, 
and that mark on his face." 

''Oh, my dear," cried Mrs. Dean, "my eyes were 
so dim, I didn't see. Is it very bad ? " 

" 'Course you couldn't see," cried Esau, " if you 
keep on crying. Why you ought to laugh for joy to 



A STARTLING ANNOUNCEMENT. 69 

think Mr. Gordon and ine's got out of bad company, 
and left old Dempster for good." 

** I am glad, my dear, if it's for your good, I'm 
sure. Let mo give you a hot baked potato, Mr. 
Gordon, my dear. But Esau has been going on in 
the wildest way — says he shall start across the sea to 
some dreadful place.'' 

" That I didn't, mother ; I said it was a lovely 
place. There you are, master. Mi. Esau Dean, 
may I have the pleasure of helping you to some 
poy ? " 

" He says he shall be an emigrant, my dear, and 
shall go and build himself a house in the woods." 

" Well/' said Esau, helping himself quickly, " there's 
no room here in London to build one, and if there 
was the people wouldn't let me have the ground." 

"And it's all madness, and wild as wild." 

'' Well, you might give your poor son, who has just 
escaped outer prison, a hot potato," said Esau, grin- 
ning at me again. 

** Oh, my dear, I beg your paidon. There, let 
me help you. That's a beauty." 

"Then why didn't you gi^e it to Mr. Gordon ? " 

" Do be quiet, my dear. How you do talk. I 
really think you're half crazy." 

"I was, mother, to stop with old 'going, going, 
gone ' so long. Never mind ; I'm going to have land 
of my own, and a hoube iu the woods, where I can 
go and shoot bears and wolves." 

*' There, Mr. Gordon, my dear, that's how he has 
been going on ever since he came home." 

"Hold your plate for some more gravy," said Esau 
to me. " That's the worst part of it. I shan't 



70 TO THE WEST. 

have mother to make hot steak pies and lovely 
crusts." 

" It isa't licilf so guod tis I should like to niakc it, 
Esau/' said the poor little woman sadly ; " but do be 
a good boy, and leave off all that dreadful talk. Mr. 
Gordon don't go on like that." 

" No, but he thinks all the more, mother." 

'* He don't, I'm sure. Now do you, Mr. Gordon ? " 

*' I'm afraid I've quite made up my mind to go, 
Mrs. Dean," I said sndly. 

" Oh, my dear, don't," she ci'ied, " It's too dread 
ful. Right on tlie other side of the world, where 
there's bears and wolves, and for ail we know [ler- 
haps savage Red Indians." 

'' Oh, there are, mother, lots of 'em ; and they 
scallop people and roast 'em." 

" Esau ! " half shrieked the poor little woman 
wildly. 

'' Don't eat 'em afterwanls, do they, Mr. Gordon?" 

" Don't listen to him, Mrs. Dean," I cried. " He 
is saying all this to tease you." 

"I thought so," she cried triumphantly. "Then 



he doesn't mean to go ? " 

I was silent, and Mis. Dean's knife and fork 
dropped on the table. 

*'Tell me — the truth," she cried, rising and laying 
her hand on my shoulder, 

"The truth is, Mrs. Dean, that we have both lost 
our situations, and that I'm afiaid Mr. Dempster Aviil 
be so malicious that he will keep us from getting 
others." 



" Yes, I'm afraid of that," she said sadly. 

" So as we have heard that any one who likes 



A STARTLING ANNOUKCEMENT. 71 

to try can get on out there, we did think of 
going." 

*' And we do think of going, mother dear/* said 
Esau gently. "Come, try and iook at it sensibly. I 
know you will not like me to go, and when it comes 
to the time, I shan't like to leave you ; but I'm such 
a sleepy-headed chap, I shall never get on here, and 
if I go over there it will wake me up.'* 

" But I couldn't part with you, my boy/' cried 
Mrs. Dean. " I should be all alone. What would 
become of me ? " 

" Why you'd go on just as you are, and I should 
send you home some money sometimes ; and when 
I've made my fortune I shall come back and make a 
lady of you." 

"No, no, no," she said, with the tears running 
down her cheeks ; " I'd rather stop as we axe, Esau." 

" Yes, but we can't" 

" Yes^ we can^dear. I've saved a few pounds now, 

and it only means working a little harder. I can 
keep you, and Tm sure — " 

" Stop !" roared Esau huskily. **I'm ashamed of 
you, mother. Do you think I'm going to be such a 
sop of a fellow as to sit down here and let you keep 
me ? I suppose you'll want to keep Mr. Gordon 
next." 

"Then you've got nothing to be ashamed of, I'm 
sure, sir/' said the little woman tartly. " What's 
enough for two's enough for three, and I was going 
to say, when you went on like that, that if Mr. 
Gordon wouldn't mind, and not be too proud at 
things not being quite so plentiful, which everything 
should be clean as clean, it's very, very welcome 



72 TO THE WEST. 

you'd be, ni}^ dear, for you never could have been 
nicer if you had been my own boy." 






*' Mrs. Dean," I cried, with a curious feeling in my 
throat, while Esau looked at me searchingly, as if he 
thought I was going to accept the offer, " that is 
quite impossible. Neither Esau nor I could do that. 
Why, I should be ashamed even to think of it." 

*' Oh no/* said Esau, saicastically, " it's all right. 
Let mother do the work, and we two will play at 
tops and marbles all day." 

'* "Rp qiiiet^ T^sai^, T know you're o»^ly teasing. T^ut 
why not, my dear ? I know I'm a very little woman, 
but I'm very strong 

" It's be quiet, mother, I tliink/' cried Esau angrily. 
" What do you mean by talking like that to Mr, 
Gordon ? I often calls him Gordon, 'cause he's always 
been such a good chap to me ; but I don't forget 
he's a gentleman's son, and his mother was a born 
lady. I'm ashamed of you, mother, that I am." 

" But it's so dreadful, my boy — worse than your 
being a soldier. I could come down to Woolwich to 
see you bometimes." 

*' ISo, no, Mis. Dean," I said ; "don't say that. It 
really would be wise for us to go. People do get 
on out there, and those Iriends of mine, Mr. John 
Dempster and Mrs, John, are going," 

" That's it then," ciied the little lady angrily. " It's 
their doing, and it's a shame." 

" Here, hold hard, mother 1 " cried Esau. *' I say, 
is that true ? " 

'' Quite." 

" And now you'ie trying to blind me, Esau," cried 
Mrs, Dean; "but you can't cheat me." 



A STARTLING ANNOUNCEMENT. 73 

" Who's trying to blind you ? " 

** You, sir. Just as if you didn't know all the 



time." 

"He did not know, neither did I know till I went 
up there to day/' I said. 

"Ah, I never liked those people. They're only 
Dempsters, and not content with weaning you away 
from me, they've done the same now with my boy." 

" Did you ever hear such an unbelieving old 
creature," cried Esau excitedly. " Mr. and Mrs. John 
D. going ! Why you've coatee 'em into it." 

" You don't deceive me ; you don't deceive me," 
said Mrs. Dean, sobbing. 

" Be quiet, mother I — But how is it they're going ? *' 

" For Mrs. John's health. I told you before they 
said they might go to Canada." 

"So you did." 

" Of course you did," said Mrs. Dean^ scornfully. 

" They are going to join Mrs. John's brother, who 
is manager out at a Hudson's Bay Company's station," 

" Hudson's Bay/' said Esau, making a grimace ; 
" that's up at the North Pole I don't want to go 

there." 

"Nonsense! "I said; "it's somewhere in British 
Columbia." 

" Hudson's Bay, Baffin's Bay, Davis' Straits all 
up at the North Pole. Think nobody never learnt 
jographj^ but you ? " 

"Ah, well, never mind where it is/' I said im- 
patiently; " they're going out there." 

"And they've coaxed you two boys away from a 
poor lone widow woman to go with them," cried Mrs. 
Dean; "and it's a sin and a shame." 



74 TO THE WEST. 

" I assure you, Mrs. Dean — " 

'' No, sir, you can't." 

^' Will you be quiet, mother !" cried Esau angrily, 
"and go on with your supper, and let us. You're 
crying right into the salt." 

" I'm not, sir ! and I will not be put down by a boy 
like you. I say you shan't go." 

" And I say I shall," replied Esau surlily. " If you 
don't know what's for the best, I do." 

" It isn't for the best, and it's cruel of you, Esau," 

" Well," said Esau, turning to nie, " I've made up 
my mind, Gordon ; she won't care when it's all over, 
and thea she'll see it's for the best for all of us. So 
once for all, Aviil you stick to it ? " 

*' Yes," I said, " I am quite determined now." 

"Hear that, mother?" 

*' Oh yes, I hear, sir." 

" Then don't say sir; and let's finish supper com- 
fortably, for I haven't had half enough. But let's 
have it all over, and then settle down to it. So once 
for all, I'm going out to British Columbia to make 
my fortune." 

Mrs. Dean had been sitting down for some little 
time now, and as Esau said these last words she 
started up, gave the table a sharp slap with her hand, 
looked defiantly at us both, and exclaimed 

" Then I shall come too." 

We two lads sank back in our chairs astonished. 
Then we looked at each other, and we ended by 
bursting out laughing. 

"Oh, all right," said Esau at last. "That's right, 
mother. — She's coming to do the shooting for us 
while we build up the house." 



)} 



A STARTLING ANNOUNCEMENT. 75 

" Ah, you may laugh, sir. But if that's a place 
that is good for two lads like you to get on in, it's 
a good place for a respectable hard working woman 
who can wash, and cook, and bake bread, whether 
it's loaves or cakes." 

" Well, mother can make cakes/* said Esau, '' and 
good ones. 

" Of course I can, sir ; and very glad you'll be 
of 'em too when you're thousands of miles from a 
baker's shop." 

"Yes; but the idee of your coming!" cried Esau. 
*' Haw, haw, haw ! " 

Somehow it did not socni to me such a very 
preposterous " idoc/' as Esau called it, for just then 
I too had an idea. Mrs. John was going that long 
waggon journey; what could be better for her than 
to have a clever little managing, hard-working 
woman like Mrs. Dean with ]ier? 

But I did not say anything about it then, for I 
had to think the matter over. Only a few houis 
ago it had seemed as if my connection with Esau 
was likely to be in the way of my accompanying 
the Dempsters ; now matters were taking a form 
that looked as if my friendliness with him was to 
be the reason, not only for my being their companion, 
but of helping them admirably as well. 

But matters were not quite in shape yet, and we 
all went to bed that night feeling as if Esau's 
opinion was correct — that the little supper had not 

been a success. 



CHAPTER TX. 



DIFFICULTIES. 




RS. DEAN was in waiting for me next 
morning, and attacked me directly. 

" Do, do, pray try and help me, my 
dear," she whispeied, so that her voice 
might not rise to the little bed-room where we 
could hear Esau stamping about, knocking the 
jug against the basin, and snortmg like a hippopo- 
tamus over his ablutions. ''You have such a way 
with you, and Esau looks up to you so as being 
a gentleman, and I know ho'Jl do what you tell 
him," 

" Nonsense, Mrs. Dean 1 " I said ; " surely he'll 
mind his mother more than he does mc." 

" No, my dear, no," she said sadly. " He has 
always been the dearest and best of boys, and I used 
to make him think just as I hked ; but of late, since 
he has been grown big and strong, he generally ends 
by making me think as he likes, and he is so 
obstinate." 



*' Oh no; he's a very good fellow." 

" Yes, my dear. Hush ! don*t talk so loud. 



You 



DIFFICULTIES. 77 

see lie has got it into his head that it is the best 
thing for us, and I want you to get it out," 
"But how can I, when I think the same ?" 
'' Now, Mr. Gordon, my dear, you don t you can*t 

think it's best for you two boys to go trapesing 
hundreds of thousands of miles, and going living 
among wild beasts in forests/' 

"I'm afraid I do, without the wild beasts," I said. 

" But suppose you were both taken ill, my dear, 
there's no hospitals, or dispensaries, or doctors out 

there " 

" But you said you would come with us, and if we 
were taken ill, where could we get a better nurse ? " 

" It's very kind of you to say so, my dear, and of 
course I shouldn't think of going without some 
camomiles, and poppy heads, and a little castor- 
oil, and salts and senny, and jollop. Yes, and a roll 
of sticking plaster. And that reminds me, how is your 
poor ear ? " 

"Oh, not very bad," I said laughing. "But there, 
Fm afraid I cannot do what you wish, Mrs. Dean, for 
if Esau does not come, I shall certainly go myself." 

'* And he'd be sure to, then, my dear. He'd have 
been a soldier by this time, only you kind of held 
him back. He does think such a deal of 

" Hallo, you two I Ketched you, have I, making 
plots and plans ? " 

" No, no, my dear." 

"Why, you've been coaxing him to get me not 
to go." 

" Well, my dear, it was something of that sort." 

"Yes, I know, mother. That's just like you, trying 
to stop me when I'm going to make a big fortune." 



>} 



78 TO THE WEST. 

'^But you don't know that you are, my dear. 
Such lots of people go abroad to make fortunes, and 
I never knew one yet who brought a fortune back." 

" Then you're going to know two now — him and 
me. Breakfast ready ? " 

" Yes, my dears ; and I thought you'd like some 
hot rollSj so I went and got 'em." 

" I say, mother, you're going it. Hot rolls ! Are 
they buttered ? " 

" Yes, my dear, and in the oven." 

" Did you cut 'em in tliree ? " 

*' Yes, dear, and put plenty of butter in, as you 
like them." 

"Hooray! Come on then, and let's begin." 

"But, Esau dear, if you'll only promise to stop, 
you shall have hot i*olls for breakfast every morning. 

You shall, if I work night and day," 

" Then Esau and I would rather have hard biscuit 
and dry bread out yonder, Mrs. Dean," I said warmly ; 
and Esau shouted 

" Hear, hear ! " 

Two days passed, then a tliird, and we had been 
out, and, to please Esau's mother, tried in several 
places to get engagemeats. But we soon found that 
it was hopeless, and after tramping about for hours 
went back to the cottage. 

" Such waste of time, and such a lot of troiible," 
grumbled Esau. "Wliy, we might have done a lot 
of good work hunting, or shooting, or gardening, out 
in Merriky yonder." 

But Mrs. Dean only shook her head, and told us 

to try again ; and we tried. 

I think it was on the fourth evening that we were 



DIFFICULTIES. 79 

sitting in the little kitchen, tired, discontented, and 
miserable, with Mrs. Dean stitching away more 
quickly than ever, when we all started, for there 
was a double knock at the door. 

"Hullo!" cried Esau. 

*' Hush ! my dear," said his mother, mysteriously ; 
"I know. It's either Mr. Dempster to beg you to go 
back, or news about a new place." 

She smoothed her apron and went to the door, 
picking off threads and ravelings from her dress so 
as to look neat, though that she always looked ; and 
the next moment I ran to the door too, for I heard 
a familiar voice, and to my surprise found both Mr, 
and Mrs. John. 

" Ah, my dear boy," he cried eagerly, " we were 
getting uneasy about you, and thought you must be 
ill. My wife could not rest till we came." 

I led them into the little parlour, and placed 
chairs; while Mrs. Dean, after a humble courtesy, 
went away into the kitchen. 

" Is that your landlady ? " continued Mrs. John, 
as she glanced quickly round ; and, before I could 
answer, " How beautifully neat and clean." 

" Yes, beautifully," assented Mr. John, hurriedly. 
" Have you heard of an engagement, Mayne ? " 

" No, sir," I said sadly. 

" Then you have not tried ^ " . 



" Indeed, sir, both Esau and I have tried very 
hard, as his mother is so averse to his going abroad." 

" Then you have given up all thought of going 
abroad, my dear boy ? " 

I shook my head. 

"Eut you should, Mayne/' said Mrs, John, in 



J> 



80 TO THE WEST. 

rather a low voice. " We are forced to go for my 
health*s sake, but you are young and strong, and 
with energy you ought to succeed here. 

" I should like to do Avhat you think right, ma'am," 
I said sadly. 

" And we both think it right, my boy,'* said Mr. 
John. "We should dearly like to have you with us; 
but it would be unjust to you to encourage you to 
take a step which you might afterwards bitterly 
repent, and we should feel ourselves to blame." 

I looked at Mrs. John, npd slie took my hand, and 
said sadly- 

" Yes, we have had many talks about it, Mayne, 
and we can only come to that conclusion," 

"Then you are bo^h going away, and I shall never 
see you again ? " I said bitterly. 

" Who can say ? " said Mrs. John, smiling. " You 
know why I am going. I may come back in a 

few years strong and well, to find you a prosperous 
and— Ah 1 " 

" Alexes ! my child ! " cried Mr. John in agony, for 
Mrs. John, who liad been speaking in a low voice, 
suddenly changed colour, raised her hands to her 
throat, as she uttered a low sigh, and would have 
fallen from her chair if I had not caught and 
supported her. 

We were lifting her to the little horse-hair couch, 
when there was a tap at the door, and Mrs. Dean 
appealed. 

" Is anything the 



n 



" Matter," she would have said, but as she caught 
sight of Mrs. John's white face, she came forward 
quickly, and with all the clever management of a 



DIFFICULTIES. 81 

practised nurse, assisted in laying the fainting woman 
back on the couch. 

"She's "v^eal^, and hpon trying 1o do +00 much, 

sir. 

"Yes, yes, I was afiaid/' cried Mi. John, "But 
she would come to see you, Mayne. Tell me where 
— ril run for a doctor/' 

" Oh no, sir," said Mrs. Dean, quietly ; '' I'll bathe 
her temples a bit. Slie'll soon come round." 

Mrs. Dean hurried out of the room, and was back 
directly with hnsin, spongp^ towels, and a tiny little 
silver box. 

"You hold that to her nose, Mr. Gordon, while I 
sponge her face. Mind it's very strong.'* 

" But a doctor," panted Mr. John in agony. " She 
has been so teiribly ill. This was too much for 
her." 

"If you fetched a doctor, sir, he'd tell us to do 
just what we're a doing. Bathe her face and keep her 
head low. There, poor dear! she's coming round. 
Oh, how thin and white she is ! " 

Mrs. Dean was quite right, for under her ministra- 
tions the patient soon opened her eyes, to look 
vacantly about for a few moments, and murmur 

" So weak so weak." 

" Are you better, dearest ? " whispered her husband. 

She smiled feebly, and closed her eyes for a time. 
Then with a deep sigh she looked up again, and 
made an effort to rise. 

"Ah, that's right," said Mr. John; "you feel 
better." 

"No, no," said Mrs. Dean, firmly, "not yet. She 
must lie still till the faintness has gone off, or 



82 TO THE WEST. 

she'll bring it back," and, with a sigh, Mrs. John 
resigned herself to the stronger will, Mr. John 

nodding at me, and sayiug iu a whibpei — 

"Yes, Mayne; she knows best." 
A few minutes later Mrs. Dean went towards the 
door. 

" I'll be back again directly/' she whispered- *' I 



want to speak to Esau.' 

She was back directly, and Mrs. John held out 
her hand to her. 

'"Thank you, thank you so very much," she 
whispered. " I f^m so sorry to have given you all 
this trouble." 

Mrs. Dean laughed. 

" Trouble 1 " she said, merrily ; " as if it was trouble 
for one woman to help another. I mean a lady," she 
said, colouring. 

There was silence for a few moments, and then 
Mrs. John said — 

" I thought I must come down to see Mayne. 
Has he told you of his wish to go with us to the 
West ? " 

"Told me?" cried Mrs. Dean, excitedly. "Ah, 
now you are talking about trouble indeed." 

" We came down to tell him that it is impossible 
— foolish of him to think of such a thing." 

"Oh, thank yon kindly^ ma'nm/' cried Mr^. Deau ; 

" and me thinking all kinds of evil of you, and that 
you had been persuading him to go." 

" No, no, my good woman, no," said Mr. John. 

"And thank you too, sir. Ard I hope Mr. 
Gordon will take it to heart for if he had gone 
my Esau would have been sure to go too, and I 



DIFFICULTIES. S3 

should have seemed to be quite alone in the 
world." 

" Yes, it would be hard for you," said Mrs. John, 
looking at her searchingly. " Mayne, my dear, you 
will not try and influence her son ? " 

I shook my head. 

" Oh, but he don't, ma'am, never/' said Mrs. Dean, 
eagerly ; " he crosses him ; but my Esau always sets 
Mr. Gordon here up for a liidle, and thinks whatever 
he does must be right." 

"Why, Mayne," said Mr. John, smiling, "I did not 
know you were such a model boy." 

"Oh, but he is, sir/' cried Mrs. Dean; "and my 
Esau is ever so much better since — " 

"Tm going for a walk," I said, with my face 

scarlet. 

But just then there was a tap at the door, to 
which Mrs. Dean responded, and came back directly 
with a little tray, on which was her favourite black 
teapot and its companions. 

"I'm afraid, ma'am, it isn't such tea as you're used 
to, but I thought a cup — and my boy Esau got it 
ready." 

Mrs, John gave her a grateful look, and soon after, 
very much refreshed, she quite sat vip, Mrs. Dean 
helping her to a chair. 

"But oh^ my dear/' she snid, "you're so wenk and 

thin; you're not fit to take a long voyage and a 
journey such as Mr. Gordon talked about." 

"If I stay in England I shall die/' said Mrs. John, 
sadly. 

" Oh, don't say that, my ma'am. But are you 

going alone ? " 



84 TO THE WEST. 

"No; with my husband." 
"And soon?" 

" The vessel sails in a fortnight. 



)> 



ti 



A fortnight ? There, Mr. Gordon, you see you 



could not go. It is too soon." 

"And you will give up all thought of going, 
Mayne?" said Mrs. John, "for our sake/' 

I was silent for a few moments, and then my voice 
was very husky as I said 

" For some years now I have had no friends except 
Mrs. Dean and her son. Then I met Mr. John 
Dempster, and since then it has been like having old 
times. Now you are going away, and you say don't 

go too." 

" Yes, yes," said Mrs. John ; " I am speaking for 
your good." 

" 1 know you think you are, Mrs. John ; but if Mr. 
John here had at my age been placed in my position, 
I'm sure he would not have done as you advise." 

"I'm afraid I should, my boy," he faltered. "I 
never did have your energy." 

"Then I can't help it," I cried. "I shall not say 
good bye to you, for go I must." 

"Oh, I^Ir. Gordon," cried Mrs. Dean, "if you go 
Esau is sure to go too. 



j> 



" Then we will try the harder either to make you 
a home out there, or to come back here prosperous 



men." 



" Then I say it again," cried Mrs. Dean, just as if 
she w^ere putting my hopes into shape, "you two 
couldn't make a home comfortable ; so if it is to 
be, why there's an end of it. And look here, sir and 
ma'am, this poor dear is not fit to go all that long 



DIFFICULTIES. 85 

journey alone, and as I'm going too, I shall come 
along with you and tend to her, and do the best I 
can." 

"Oh no, no," cried Mrs. John. 

"It is impossible," said Mr. John. 

"Do you want to wake up some day, sir," cried 
the little woman firmly, "and find this poor, weak, 
suffering thing dying for want of help ? Of course 
you don t. Here, Esau," she cried, throwing open 
the door. 

" Yes, mother ; more hot water ? " came from the 
kitchen. 

"No; you may begin to pack up. We're going 
across the sea," 

Before Mr. and Mrs. John left us that night it 

was all settled ; and when I returned from going part 
of the way with them, I found Esau and his mother 
hard at work, planning as to what was to be taken 
and what sold, Mrs. Dean rousino- her son's anger as 
I entered the kitchen, and making him stamp, 

*' Why, what is the matter ? " 

"Mother is so obstinate," he ciied. 

** Why, what about? Does she say now she will 

not go ? " 

" No, Mr. Gordon, I only told him I must take my 
four flat-irons with me. They don't take up much 
room, and take 'em I will. Why, bless the boys ! 
do you think you \von't want clean shirts ? " 



CHAPTER X. 




OFF TO THE WEST. 

HAT was really the prime difficulty in our 
leaving England -to keep Mrs. Dean's 
ideas of necessaries within bounds. Poor 
little woman! She could not, try how 
her son and I would to make her, understand what 
was the meaning of simple necessaries. 

"Now it's of no use for you to fly in a passion 
with your poor mother, Esau," she used to say. " I've 
consented to ^o with you to this wild sava^re land, but 
I must have a few things to make the house com- 
fortable when we i>:ot there/' 

*' But don't I toll you you can't take 'em, because 
theyAvon't have 'em aboard ship; and you can't stuff 
'ei^i in a waggon and carry em millions of miles 
when you get across." 

*' If you wouldn't be so unreasonable. Esau. There, 
I appeal to Mr. Gordon." 

''So do I," roared Esau. *' Does mother want a 
great ironing-board ? " 

'*No," I said; "we can make you hundreds out 

there." 



OFF TO THE WEST. 87 

" Oh dear me. You'll say next I mustn't take my 
blankets and sheets." 

" You must only take what you can pack in one 

big chest/' I said. 

"But no chest would hold what I want to take/' 
whimpered the poor little woman. '' I declare if I'd 
known that I was to give up everything I have 
scraped together all these years I wouldn't have 
consented to go. Here, Esau, what are you going to 






do with those ornaments ? 

"Set 'em abide for the broker." 

" Esau, I must take them." 

"All right, mother. We'll have a ship on purpose 
for you, and you shall take the kitchen fender, the 
coal scuttle, the big door-mat, and the old four-post 
bedstead/' 

''Oh, thank you, my dear; that is good of — Esau I 
you're laughing at me, and you too, Mr. Gordon. I 
declare it's too bad/' 

"So it is, mother — of you. Once for all, I tell you 
that you must pack things that will be useful in one 
big chest, and you can take a few things that you'll 
want on the voyage and in the waggon in a carpet 

bag." 

" But it's ruinous, my deai* — all my beautiful 
things I've taken such pride in to be sacrificed/' 

" Oh, do hark at her ! " cried Esau, sticking two 
fingers in his ears, and stamping about. '' I wish to 
goodness I'd never had no mother." 

" Then you're a cruel, ungrateful boy, and you'll 
break my heart before you've done. Mr. Gordon, 
what am I to do ?" 

" To try and think that we are going to start a 



88 TO THE WEST. 

new life, and that when Esau makes a new home for 
you, all these household things can be got together 
by degrees.'* 

"But it's ruin, my dear. All these things will go 
for nothing.'* 

" They won't, I tell you," roared Esau. *' How 
many more times am I to tell you that Dingle will 
give us fifty pounds for 'em ? Him and another 
man's joining, and they're going to put 'em in sales; 
and. if they don't make so much, we've got to pay 
them, and if they make more. Dingle's going to pay 
us What more do you want ? " 

"Nothing, my dear; I've done," said Mrs. Dean 
in a resigned tone, such as would have made a 
bystander think that the whole business was settled. 
It was not, however, for the next day most likely the 
whole arcrumont would be ^onc through aofain about 
some trifle. 

Meanwhile I had been helping Mr. John, and here 
Mr. Dingle's knowledge came in very helpful, and he 
devoted every spare minute he had, working so well, 
that he arranged with one of our well-known 
auctioneers to take the furniture of the cottage, and 
triumphantly broiight Mr. John a cheque for far 
more than he expected to receive. 

One way and another, Mr, John was well provided 
with funds, laughingly telling me he had never 
been so rich before, as I went with him to his land- 
lord's to give up the key of the pleasant little house. 

For during the rapidly passing days of that 
fortnight everything had been settled, a passage had 
been secured for Mrs. Dean in the same vessel by 
which Mr. and Mrs. John were going, and it had 



OFF TO THE WEST. 89 

been finally decided that Esan and I were to go by 
quite a different route. For while they were to go 
by swift steamer across to Quebec, and from there 
through Canada with one or other of the waggon- 
trains right to Fort Elk, on the upper waters of the 
Eraser, we lads were, after seeing the little party off 
to Liverpool, to go on board the Albatross, a clipper 
ship bound from London to the River Plate, and 
round by Cape Horn to San Francisco, from which 
port we were to find our way north the best way 

we rould 

There would be no difficulty, we were told, for 
vessels often sailed from the Golden Gate to the 
mouth of the Eraser, but our voyage would be sIoav. 

It would be rapid though compared to the land 
journey across the prairies. Our trip would probably 
last five months> more if our ?tay at San Francisco 
were long; but allowing for halts at the settlements, 
and the deliberate way in which, for Mrs. John's 
benefit, the journey was to be made, their trip would 
extend to a year — probably more. 

Mr. John had gone throu^^h it all with me ac^ain 
and again, reading Jong extracts from his brother in- 
law's letter written expressly for their guidance, till 
I knew them pretty well by heart. In these he was 
told to hasten on to the high and mountainous lands, 
for it was there the advantai^e to Mrs. John would 
be. They would find it cold as the autumn passed 
into winter during their journey, intensely cold, pei-- 
haps ; but it would be bright aad sunshiny as a rule, 
and the clear pure air of the elevated regions gave 
health and strength. 

I thought a great deal about it, and felt puzzled 



90 TO THE WEST. 

sometimes, wondering whether it could be wise to 
take a delicate woman all that tremendous distance. 
But I was too young, I thought, to have opinions 
worth consideration, and I always came to the con- 
clusion that my elders must know best. 

Then came the day for parting, so quickly that I 
could hardly believe it. The luggage had gone on 
some days before to Liverpool, and there were Esau 
and I seeing after the few things that were to accom- 
pany the travellers in their cabins, as we stood on 
the platform at Euston. 

Mrs. John looked terribly thin and worn, more 
suited, I thought, for going at once to her bed than 
to venture on such a terrible journey; but there was 
a bright, hopeful look in her eyes as I helped her to 
her seat, and she spoke quite cheerily as she held 
my hand, Mr. John holding the other, and we 
occupied ourselves with our final good-byes, so as not 

to notipo Mrs Dean and her =ion. Rut T could not 

help hearing Esau's words' 

" Oh, I say, mother, don't — don't ! You must get 
to your seat now. There, good-bye, dear. It isn't 
so very far after all, and we'll be there waiting for 
you, and ready to welcome you when you come." 

" But is it right, dear ? " she said ; " is it right ? '* 

" 'Course it is. Don't turn coward. You must go 
now all the things are sold." 

There was a final embrace ; Mrs. Dean was hurried 
into her seat, the door closed ; Mr. John pressed 
my hand hard without a word, and Mrs. John put 
her arms about my neck and kissed me. 

'' God bless you ! an revoir ! " she said. 

" Stand back, sir, please," some one shouted ; the 



OFF TO THE WEST. 91 

engine gave a piercing shriek, and Esau and J stood 
on the stone platform watching the train glide away 
with many a head out of the \vindow, and hand and 
kerchief wavinc^ growini^ more and more confused, 



while a sense of desolation and loneliuess oppressed 
me till I quite started at my companion's words. 

" Oh, won't poor mother have a big cry up in a 
corner all the way down. It's very rum, but I 
suppose she is fond of me." 

*' Fond of you ? " I said ; " of course." 

"Well," he said, "here w^e are, passages paid, and 
all that money in our pockets, and nothing to do for 
two days. What shall us do go and have a bit of 
fun, or get on board at the docks ? " 

" Get on board the Albatross,'' I said. *' There 
don't seem to me as if there is any more fun in the 
world." 

"Well now, that is a strange thing," said Esau; 
" that's just how I feel Look here." 

" What at ? " 

"I feel just in the humour for it as cross and 
nasty as can be. Let's go and say good bye to old 
Demp." 

But we did not; we went sadly to the docks, 
where our boxes already were, and that night took 
possession of our berths. 




CHAPTER XL 



SEVENTEEN WEEKS AT SEA. 



(t 




UCH better have let mo had it my way, 
sir," said Esau, who, ever since he had 
seen the John Dempsters and their 
treatment of me, had grown to behave 
as if I was his superior. 

He spoke those words one day when we had been 
at sea about a week, the weather having been terribly 
rough, and the passengers sufferiug severely. 

" Oh, I don't know, Esau," I said, rather dolefully. 
''I do, sir. If you'd done as I wanted you Ave 
should ha' been walking about Woolwich now in 
uniform, with swords under our arms; and I don't 
know how you get ou, but I caa't wnlk at all." 

"You should cntch hold of something." 

" Catch hold o' something ? What's the good when 

the ship chucks you about just as if you were a ball. 

See that chap over there ? 

"What, that one-eyed man ?" 

"Yes; he was going to hit me just now." 

'' What for ? " 

** 'Cause I run ray head into his chest. I couldn't 



>) 



SEVENTEEN WEEKS AT SEA. 93 

help it I'd got my legs precious wide apart, and 
was going steadily, when the ship gave a regular 
jump and then seemed to wag her tail, and sent me 
flying, and when I pollergized to him he said I was 
always doing it, and ought to sit down." 

" Well, it is safest, Esau," I said ; " IVe got several 
nasty bruises." 

"Bruises ! Why, I'm bruised all ovei*, and haven't 
got a place left clear for another, so I've begun again 
making fresh bruises top of the old 'uns." 

I laughed. 

"Ah, I don't see nothing to grin at. If you was 
as sore as I am you wouldn''t laugh. Wouldn^t have 
ketched me coming to sea if I'd known hoAV bad it 
was. Why, it's like being knocked about by old 
Demp, only worse, for you've gat no one to hit back 
at/' 

" It's only a storm, Esau, and you'll like it when 

the weatlier'a fine ao*ain." 

** Not me. Like it ! Look liere ; I've read books 
about your yo-ho sailors and jolly tars, and your 
bright blue seas, but them as wrote 'em ought to 
be flogged. Why, it's horrid. Oh, how ill I have 
been. I wouldn'c ha' cared if mother had been here. 
She would ha' been sorry for me ; 'stead o' everybody 
laughing, as if it was good fun." 

" Well, you can laugh at them." 

"Yes, and I just will too. Oh, hark at that. 
Here, hold tight, sir ! we're going." 

For a tremendous wave struck the ship, making it 
quiver as tons of water washed over her, seeming to 
beat her down ; but she rose as if shaking herself, and 
then made a pitch. 



94 TO THE WEST. 



" I say/' cried Esau, " I didn't know ships went like 
fishes sometimes.'* 

" What do you mean ? " I said, as I listened to the 
rush and roar, and noticed that it seemed to be 
getting dark. 

" Why, swim right under water. Shall we ever 
come up again. Hah I that's better," for the light 
streamed in again through the thick round glass at 
the side by our heads. "I've had about enough of 
this, sir. What do you say to getting out at the next 
pier and walking back ? " 

*'0h, Esau," I cried, ''don't be such a Cockney. 
What pier ? This is not a river steamer." 

" I only wish it was. But I say, I can't eat, and I 
can't sleep, and I'm sore outside and in. Let's go 
back and follow mother and them two in a waggon." 

*'But don't you know that we should have a rough 
voyage across first ? " 

" Couldn't be so rough as this. Oh, there it goes 
again. I know we're going to dive down right to 
the bottom. Wish we could, and then we might get 
out and walk. Here, let's go on deck." 

" We can't," I said. 

" No," said the one eyed man, a big, broad, Saxon- 
looking fellow, " we're battened do^ -n." 

" Oh, are we ? " said Esau. 

" Yes ; you can't go up till this weather's better. 
Want to be w^ashed overboard ? " 

"I should like to be washed somewhere," said 
Esau, "for I feel very dirty and miserable." 

"Sit down and wait patiently, my lad," said the 

man ; " and don't you come butting that curly head 
of yours into me again, like an old Southdown 



SEVENTEEN WEEKS AT SEA 95 

ram coming at a man. I don't want my ribs 
broke/' 

" Have you been at sea before V 1 said to him, as 
he sat back smoking a short pipe. 

"Often. Been to 'Stralia, and New Zealand, and 

the Cape." 

" Was it ever as rough as this ? " 

" Worse/' he said, laconically. 

" But not so dangerous ? " said Esau, in a question- 
ing tone. 

" Worse/' said the man gruffly. 

"But we keep seeming as if we should go to the 
bottom," said Esau, fretfully. 

" Well, if we do, we do, boy. We're in for it, so 
what's the good o' making a fuss ? " 

" I don't see no good in being drowned without 
saying a word/' grumbled Esau. " We two paid ever 
so much for the passage, and a pretty passage it is." 

" Oh, it'll be all right if you keep quiet ; but if you 
get wandering about as you do, we shall have you 
going right through the bulk-head, and have to get 
the carpenter to cut you out with a saw." 

" Wish he was as ill as I am/' whispered Esau. 

" Thank ye/' said the man, nodding at him. " My 
eyes are a bit queer, but my ears are sharp." 

" Where do you suppose we are ^ " I said. 

"Off Spain somewhere, and F dare say we shaH be 

in smooth water before long. Shan't be sorry for a 
little fresh air myself." 

I was longing for it, our experience being not very 
pleasant down in the crowded steerage ; and I must 
confess to feeling sorry a good many times that I 
had come. 



96 TO THE WEST. 

4 

But after a couple more days of misery, I woke one 
morning to find that the ship was gliding along 
easily, and in the sweet, fresh air and warm sunshine 
we soon forgot the troubles of the storm. 

The weather grew^ from pleasantly warm to terribly 
hot, with calms and faint bieezes; and then as we 
sailed slowly on we began to find the weather cooler 
again, till by slow degrees we began to pass into 
wintry weatlier, with high winds and showers of snow. 
And this all puzzled Esau, wliose knowledge of the 
shape of the earth and a ship's course were rather 
hazy. 

" Yes ; it puzzles me," he said. " We got from 
coolish weather into hotter; then into hot, and tlien 
it grew coolei again, and now it's cold ; and that Mr. 
Gunson says as soon as ^^e're round the Horn we 
shall get into wet weather, and then it will be 
warmer every day once more." 

And so it of course proved, for as we rounded the 
Cape, and got into the Pacific, we gradually leffc 
behind mountains with snow in the hollows and 
dark-looking pine trees, to go sailing on slowly day 
after day through dreaiy, foggy wet days. Then 
once more into sunshine, with distant peaks of moun- 
tain points on our right, as we sailed on within 
sight of the Andes; and then on for weeks till we 
entered the Golden Gates, and were soon after at 
anchor off San Francisco. 

Seventeen weeks after we had come out of the 
West India Docks, and every one said we had had a 
capital passage, and I suppose it was ; but we passed 
through a very dreary time, and it is impossible to 
describe the feeling of delight that took possession 



SEVENTEEN WEEKS AT SEA. 07 

of US as we looked from the deck at the bright, busy- 
looking city, witl) its forest of masts, till houses, 
and dry, bare country round. 

Esau and I were leaninof acjainst the bulwarks, 
gazing at the shore, upon which we were longing to 
set foot, when Gunson, who liad all through the 
voyage been distant and rather surly, came up behind 
us. 

" Well, youngsters," he said, " going ashore ? " 

" Yes," I said, " as soon as we can get our 
chests." 

*' Well, good bye, and good luck to you. Got any 
money ? " 

"A little," I replied, rather distantly, for 1 did not 
like the man's manner. 

He saw it, and laughed. 

" Oh, I'm not going to beg or borrow," he said 
roughly. ** I was only going to say put it away safe, 
and only keep a littlp ont for imp." 

" Oh, we're not fools," said E^au, shortly. 

" Don't tell lies, boy," said the man, giving him an 
angry look. *' Don't you bo too clever, because 
you'll always find some one cleverer. Look here," 
he continued, turning to me, " perhaps you're not 
quite so clever as he is. I thought I'd just say a 
word before I go about the people here. There's 
plenty of a good sort, but there's a set hanging about 
the wharfs and places tliat will be on the look out 
to treat you two lads like oranges suck you dry, 
and then throw away the skins. Going to stop 
here ? " 

*'No," I said; "we are going up country to join 
some friends." 

Cx 



98 TO THE WEST. 

"Then you get up country and join your friends 
as soon as you can. Tliat's all. Good bye." 

He nodded slioitiy at me, but did not offer to shake 
han<l'^. 

"(jood b^e, shaip 'uii," he growled at Esau. 

"Goodbye," said E^au, defiantly, and then the 
man turned awav. 

" Never did like chaps Avith one eye," said Esau. 
"Strikes me that he's pretending to be so innocent, 
and all the while he's just ths sort of fellow to try 



J) 



and cheat you. 

** Oh no," I said ; " he's not a pleasant fellow, but 
I think he's honest." 

"I don't," ciied Esau. "He took a lancy to that 
four-bladed knife of mine on the voyage, and he has 
been waiting till he w^as going to leave the ship. 
I'm not going to make a ro"\v about it, 'cause I 
might be wrong ; but I had that knife last night, 
and this morning it's gone." 

"And you think he stole it \ " 

" I shan't say one thing nor I shan't say another. 

All I know is, that my knife's gone." 

" But hadn't you bettor have him stopped and 
searched ? 

" What, and if the knife ain't found, have him 
glaring at me with that eye of his as if he would eat 

me ? Not I. We're in a strange country^ with 

'Mericans, and Indians, and Chinese all about, and 
we've got to be careful. All I say is, my knife's 
gone." 

"There, put it in your pocket," I said, handing him 
the knife, "and don't be so prejudiced against a 
man who wanted to give us a bit of friendly advice." 



)? 



SEVENTEEN WEEKS AT SEA. 99 

"Why ! eh ? How? You took the knife then." 

" Nonsense ; you lent it to me last night when I 
was packing up our things." 

Esau doubled his fist, and gave himself a good 
punch on the head. 

" Of course I did/' he cried. " Well of all ! Why 
how 1 I say, my head must be thick alter all " 




^^ 




^'" 



CHAPTER XIL 




WE GET INTO HOT WATER. 

E were on. shore next day, and, by the 
captain's advice, went to a kind of hotel, 
where they undertook, not very willingly, 
to accommodate us, the captain having 
promised to help us in getting a ship for the Eraser 
River. But though day after day passed, and we 
went to him again and again, he was always too 
busy about his cargo being discharged, or seeing 
other people, to attend to us, and at last we sat one 
day on some timber on a wLarf, talking about our 
affairs rather despondently. 

'*We seem to be regularly stuck fast, Esau," I 
said ; " and one feels so helpless out in a strange 

place like this" 

** Yes," he said ; " and the money goes so fast." 
" Yes," I said, " the money goes so fast. We must 

get away from here soon." 

'' Couldn't walk up to what-its-name, could we ? " 
*' Walk ? Nonsense ! Many, many hundreds of 

miles through a wild country and over mountains 

and rivers." 



WE GET INTO HOT WATER. 101 

" Well, I shouldn't min 1 that, lad. It would all be 



new." 



"We shall have plenty of that wlien we get to 

British Columbia." 

'' What's all this then ? '' he said. 

" Part of the United States California." 

" Oh, ah ! of course. Seems to me I spent so 

much time learning to write a good hand, that 

I don't know half so much of other things as I 

should." 

"Plenty of time for learning more, Esau." 

"Yes, plenty of time. Seem to have more time 

than we want, and I don't enjoy going about much, 

though there's plenty to see. One's so unsettled 

like." 

"Yes; we want to get to our journey's end." 

" So tliib is California, is it ? That's where they 

got so much gold. I say, let's stop here." 

" Nonsense ! We must o-et to Fort Elk, and see 

what is to be done there till Mr. John comes." 

" All right, I'm ready for anything. Here's one 
of the chaps coming who wanted us to let him get 
us a ship yesterday." 

For just then a yellow-looking fellow, one of the 
many idlers who hung about ths docks, came slouch- 
ing along towards us ; and as soon as I saw him I 
whispered a word or two to Esau, and we got up and 
walked awayj with the man still following us at a 
little distance. 

"Those chaps smell money is my belief," said 
Esau. 

"Yes, and Mr. Gunson was right. We mrstn't 
trust any one, but wait till the Captain tells us of 



102 TO THE WEST. 

some respectable skipper who's going up North and 
will take us." 

" That's it. I Say, what rum-looking chaps thube 
Chinees are," continued Esau, as a man in blue, with 
a long pig tail, passed us and smiled. " Why, he 
don't know us, does he ? " 

"We don't know him," I replied. 

We went on past the crowded wharves, where 
ships were loading and unloading, and then by the 
gray-iinted wooden buiklings, all bright and fresh- 
looking in the sunshine. Everybody nearly seemed 
busy and in a hurry except us, and the idle-looking 
scoundrels who hung about the drinking and gamb- 
ling saloons, into one or two of which Esau peered 
curiously as we went by ; and then, as if attracted 
by the shipping, we made our way again down by the 
wharves in hopes of hearing cf a vessel that would 

take us on. 

I have known well enough since, that had we 
been better instructed, all this would have been 
simple enough ; but to us ignorant lads, fresh come 
from England, it was a terrible problem to solve, one 
which grew more difficult every day. In those days, 
when settlers were few, and Vancouver Island just 
coming into notice, there was no regular steamer, 
only a speculative trading vessel now and then. 
Still there was communication, if we had only known 
where to apply. 

We were watching one vessel just setting out on 
her voyage, and thinking that in an hour or two she 
would be outside the great opening to the harbour, and 
abreast of the bare, whitish-looking cliffs which form 
tliat pait of the Californian coast, when Esau said 



WE GET INTO ilOL" WATER. 103 

" I wonder wlicther slie/s goi ag up to Fraser River. 
I viy, why didn't wo find out she was going- to saiJ, 
and ask ? " 

"You want to go up the Fraser River?" said 
a voice close behind us. " Guess I never see such 
chaps as you. Why didn't you say so sooner ? " 

We both faced round at once, and found that the 
man who had been haunting us for days was close 
behind us, and hal heard every ^^ord. 

""Look here/' said E^au, shortl}^ 

"There, don't you got ru^ty, stranger. That's the 
worst of you Eugli^lier-^, you tliink (n'otybody wants 
tew hurt vou." 

"Come along," I whispered. 

"Yew just let him alone. He's all right. Now 

here's yew tew have landed here days, yew may 
say, outer the Alhytross, and yew goes to spensife 
hotel, wasting yew're money, when we've got quite 
a home for strangers like yew for half what yew 
pay, and we'll get yew a ship to Eraser, Skimalt, or 
wheer yew like." 

As he was speaking three more men sauntered 
slowly up and stood looking on — men whom I 
felt sure I had seen with him before, and it made 
me uneasy, especially as a couple more came out of 
a low-looking saloon close by, and we were some 
distance from the better part of the city. 

" Look here," I said sharply, " do you know of a 
ship going to sail to the Eraser River, or to 
Esquimau ? " 

" Why, of course I do. Here, where's your money ? 
It's twenty five dollars a-piece. Splendid berths, 
best of living. Like gentlemen aboard. Hand over, 



104 TO THE WEST. 

and I'll take you to where they give out the 
tickets/' 

*' Thank you/' I s\i,l. ''I should like to sec the 
ship, and an agent. 

"But don't I tell yew everything's first chip, and 
I'll do it for yew as yew're strangers." 

Yes, it's very kind of you," I said ; '' but I won't 



}f 



ic 



trouble you." 



a 



Trouble ? Oh, come, we're not like that here 



)> 



to stranfTors! Nonsense, lad. Hand over. 

" We're not going to give twenty five dollars a 
piece, I can tell you/' put in Esau. 

*' Why, it's next to nothing for a voyage like that. 
But there, never mind, you two are new-comers, and 
the skipper's a friend of mine. I'll put you right 
with Inm for twenty dollars each. Here, hi ! Any 
of you know the Faidincr ? 

"Know her? yes," said one of the men hard by; 
nnd they all came up and surrounded us. "What 

about her ? " 

" Sails for the Fraser, don't she, to morrow ? " 

" Yes, of course." 

" vSplendid clipper, ain't she, with cabins and all 



j> 



chip chop ? " 

"Yes," came in ohorns. 

" There, wliat more do you want ? Come along, 
lads; lucky I met you. Come and ])ave a drink." 

" No, thank you," I said. " Come, Esau." 

'' Get," said the man with a forced laugh. " What's 
the fijood of beino- stranoers. Come and have a drink. 
I'll pay." 

" Pay ? Ah," said the second man ; " and well all 
share in turn. Come on in here." 



WE GET INTO HOT WATER. 105 

This feilow clapped his hand on my shoulder with 
a boisterous display of friendliness, while the first- 
comer thrust his hand through Esau's arm, and began 
to lead him toward the saloon. 

" That will do," I said, trying to be cool, for I 
began to fear that we were being dragged into some 
disturbance, and felt that the time had come to be 
iirm. " We are much obliged to you for your friend- 
liness, but we neither of us drink. Be good enough 
to tell me where the agent of the ship lives, and I'll 
give you half a-dollar." 

" Nonsense I come and liave a drink, my lad.'* 
"No, thank you," I said. ''Come, Esau." 
" Why, what a fellow you are. Very well, then, 
hand over the twenty dollars each, if you can't take 
a friendly drop. I'll get the tickets for you ail the 

same." 

" No, no," said the other man. " Let's do no 
business without a drink first ; they think we want 
to make them pay, but I'll stand liquors for the lot." 

"No, let'em have their own way," said the first 
man; ''they're not used to our customs. You let 
'em alone. I'm going to get 'em passages in the 
Faidiner for twenty dollars eacli. Come, lads, where's 



your money ? 

I glanced quickly to right and left, but we seemed 
to be away from lielp, and, strangers as we weie, in 
the lower part of the port, quite at the mercy of these 
men. Then, having made up my mind what to do, 
I pressed up to Esau, pushing rather roughly by our 
first friend. 

"Now, Esau," I said, ''back to the hotel. Straight 
on," I whispered. " Run ! " 



106 TO THE WLST. 

" I bet you don't," said our Hrst friend ; " that trick 
won't do here, stranger ; " and his smooth looks and 
tones gave place to a scowl and the air of a bully. 

" Come along, Esau," I said sharply. 

" No, nor you don't come along neither/' said the 
man, as the others closed round us as if out of 
curiosity, but so as to effectually bar our retreat. 

" What's matter ? " said one who had not yet 
spoken. 

" Matter ? " cried our friend. " Why jest this. 
These here tew have been holding me off and on 
for three days, wanting me to get 'cm a ship to take 
'em to Esquimult. First they wanted to go for ten, 



then they'd give fifteen.' 

" Fifteen dollars to Skimalt ? " cried the new man. 
*' Gammon." 

'"That's so," said our friend. ''Last they said 
they'd give twenty dollars a-picce, and after a deal 
o' trouble we got 'em berths, and paid half the money 
down ; now they want to back out of it." 

'' Oh, yes," cried the second man; " that won't do 
here, mates." 

''It's not true," I said, indignantly. 

" And now wants to bounce me out of it. Here, 
yew wouldn't hev that, mates, would yew ? " 

There was a regular excited chorus here, and the 
men closed in upon us, so that we were quite help- 
less, and for a moment I felt that we must buy 

ourselves out of our awkw^ard position. But a glance 
at Esau showed that he was stubborn and angry 
as I, and that if called upon he would be ready to 
fight for it, and make a dash for liberty. 

Those were only momentary thoughts, for we were 



WE GET INTO HOT WATER. 107 

two lads of sixteen or seventeen against a gang of 
strong men who were holding us now, and our 
position was hopeless. 

Just then our first friend said in a carneymg tone 

" There, don't be hard on 'em, mates. TJioy're 
going to be reasonable. Now then, arc you going 
to pay those twenty dollars each for your passages ? '' 

'■' No/' I said, choking ^^ ith rage. 

** Yew don't mean to go in the Fanlmer ? " 

" No, we don't," cried Esau. 

"Very well, then, yew must each on yew pay the 
smart. I paid for yew — ten dollars each, and tew for 



') 



}) 



my trouble. That's fair, ain't it, mates ? 

" Ay, ay. Make 'em pay three dollars," was 
chorussed, 

" There, yew hear 'em, so out with the spots, and 
no more nonsents. 

"You won't get no money out o' me," cried Esau, 
fiercely. 

" Nor from me," I cried. 

" We'll soon see that. Now quick ' " 

It was broad daylight, but we seemed to bo quite 
alone, and I was beinc^ forced back over a man's 



knee, when I was jerked up again, and the man who 
was holding me went backwards, while a familiar 
voice said — 

"Hullo, boys; seem to be enjoying yourselves." 
"Mr. Gunson, help ! " I cried, as I recognized our 



J) 



shipboard companion ; "these men 

"I see, my lad, steady. Ah, would you I" 

For a quick look had passed among the men, and 
they were about to make a rusli, when Gunson 
stepped back and whipped out a revolver. 



108 TO THE WEST. 

" Don't come too near, boys," he said. " I'm rather 
a good shot." 

The men stopped short at the sight of the 
revolver barrel coverino- first one and then another. 
But the first man said " Come on ! " with qnite a 
snarl, drew a knife, and flung himself at Gunson. 

I felt a horrible sensation run through me as I 
listened for the report ; but instead of firing, 
Gunson struck up with his revolver, and the man 
went over sidewise, while oui friend now fired over 

the heads uf the uthyis of the uauu. 

This stopped them for the moment, but as they 
saw that no one fell, tliey came on again, and one 
of them seized Gnnson before he could fire, or before 
he attempted to fire, for, as he told me afterwards, 
he did not want to feel that he had killed a man. 

In the struggle which followed I saw the pistol 

drop from our defender's hand, and one of the men 
stooped to pick it up, but Esau was too quick for 
him. Making quite a leap, as if playing leap frog, 
he pitched with his hands right on the man's shoulders, 
sending him over and over, but fixlling himself, while 
I picked up the pistol and drew the trigger. 

The sliarp rej^ort made my ears ring, and I stood 
back now with the weapon presented, expecting some 
of the others to rush at me. But the two reports 
had spread the alarm, and a couple of the officials 
came running up, whilst our assailants took to flight, 
giving Gunson an opportunity to rise and shake 

himself. 

" Hurt, my lads ? " he said, as he took his pistol. 
''They were too many for me; I got the worst 
of it." 



WE GKT INTO HOT WATER. 109 

'' Via not hurt, sir ; are you ? " I said. 
" Only a bit bruised " 

" I am/' grumbled Esau. " Feel as if my wrist's 
out of joint." 

By this time a crowd had assembled, and we were 
very glad to get away with our protector, after a few 
words of explanation to the two policemen, who told 
us we had better mind what company we got into, 
nodded to one another and laughed, as if it was all 

a good joke, and then went their way. 

*' TTer^, cnme to my diggiTig'^/' ^nid Gunson, rather 

gruffly. " I thought I told you two to mind what 

you were about, and wdiat sort of customers you 

wouM meet with out here/' 

" Yes," I said ; '' but—" 

"Wait till we get to my place, and we'll sit down 

and talk there. Some one has been pretty foolish 
to let two boys like you come wandering round the 

•world by yourselves." 

In about ten minutes he stopped at so shabby 
looking a hotel that I half shrank from entering. 

Gunson noticed it. 

"Needn't be scared," he said. "Decent people. 
Germans;" and throwing off my hesitation, I followed 
him with Esau to his room, where he pointed to a 
chair and a stool, and seated himself upon a very 
homely-looking bed, taking out his revolver, and 
putting in two fresh caitridges. 

"Nasty thing to carry," he said, "but it's as good 
as a big dog. It can bark loudly as well as bite. 
Barking did this time. Now then," he continued, 
as he replaced the pistol in his hip pocket, "I sup- 
pose you two know that those fellows weie ie<^ulir 



110 TO THE WEST. 

blackguards, who would have stripped you of every 
shilling you possessed — by fair meaus or foul. How 
was it you were with them ? " 

I told him all that Esau would let me say, for 
he was very anxious to relate the story himself. 

" Ohj that was it, was it ? *' said Gunson. " Glad 
you were so sensible, but you see what this place is. 
It will be all right by and by, but at present it's 
a regular sink for all the ruffians in the States to 
drain into. Why don't you get out of it ? " 
* " That's what we are trying to do — hard," I said 
eagerly. 

" Why you can't have tried much. There arc 
plenty of ways out. Where do you want to go ? '' 

*' To the Eraser Eiver," I said, '* and then away 
north to Fort Elk." 

"Ah," he said, looking at us both curiously. 
" Eraser River, eh ? That's where Em going." 

I looked at him distrustfully, and he saw it. 

*' Quite true, my lad," he said, smiling good- 
humouredly ; " and I sail by a vessel which starts 
the day after to-morrow. What did those rascals 
want twenty-five and then twenty dollars a piece for 
your passage money ? Humph ! Well, I think I can 
do better for you than that." 

*' If you would give us the name of the agent," I 
said. 

" I'll do better — I'll take you to him, and say you 

are friends of mine, if you are not ashamed of such a 

disreputable-looking character." 

*'I was not ashamed to take your help just now," 
I said. 

" No," he replied drily ; " but you had no time then 



WE GET INTO HOT WATER. Ill 

to examine my appearance. Where are you staying, 
my lads ^ " 

I told him, and he uttered a Ion"' low whistle. 



" Of course I don't know what your friends aie, 
but doesn't tlic money run away very fast ? " 

"Fast?" cried Esau; ""svhy I could live ten times 
as long on the same money in London." 

"I dale say you could live twenty times as long, 
boy; I could. Look here ; these people are decent, 
clean, and honest, — do as you like, — hadn't you better 
come here ? TheyM board you for half the money 
I'm paying — that is, they would you. I don't know 
about him — he's such a wolfish-looking fellow." 

"Why, I don't eat any more than he does ! " cried 
Esau. 

"Don't think you do, boy, you should say. Well, 
what do you think of it ? " 

" Dunno," said Esau, rather surlily. " Seems to 

me as if everybody hero, wants to rob yon How do 

I know you don't ? " 

" Ah, to be sure, boy, how do you know ? Perhaps 
I do. Going to plan to get you somewhere all by 
yourselves, and then shoot you both. I am pretty 
good Avith a revolver." 



" Didn't seem like it just now." 
"No, it didn't," said Gunsoa, coolly. ''Ah, how 
like a boy that sounds. Do you know what shooting 

a man means ? " 

"Killing him ii you fire straiglit," said Esau. 

"Kiffht; and hurtint^j him, eh ? " 

" Of course." 

" Well, look here, my lad ; the man who shoots 
another hurts himself far more than he hurts his 



112 TO THE WEST. 

victim. You don*t undei stand that. Wait till you 
are as old as I am, and you will. I did not want 
to kill either of those ruffians. It was not a question 
of aiming, I had only to hold the pistol down, and 
it would have hit one of tliem. Well,'' he con- 
tinued, "shall I take you to the captain? and will 
you bring your things here '^ or will you ^(i your 
own way ? " 

I looked at him fixedly, for everything in the 
man's appearance seemed to say, '' Don't trust him," 
till his one e3^e lit up, and a smile began to curl his 
lip Then my hand went out io liini. 

"Yes," I said, "you are an Englishman, and I'll 



trust you. 

He gripped my hand hard, and then turned to 
Esau. 

"Well," he said, ''what do you say? Think I 
shall do you a mischief?" 

'^ Yah * Not you/' said Esau '' I'm not afrai<l 

of you. Here, let's get our things from that other 
place." 

" Let s have the landlady in first," said Gunson, 
smiling; and he went to the door and called. 

A pleasant-looking German woman came, and in 
the most broken up English I ever heard, said we 
could come at once, but got into a muddle over 
terms till Gunson joined in, and spoke to her in 
German, when the difficulty was at an end. 

"Nice bright- looking place, and plenty of sun- 
shine," said Gunson, as he led us down to a wharf 
where a schooner was being laden with barrels, while 
a red-nosed, copper-complexioned man looked on 
smokino- a cisjar. 



Cf 



WE GET INTO HOT WATER. 113 

Here, skipper, two more passengers for you 



friends of mine; will you have them?" 

The captain looked us both over, and then 
nodded. 

" How much ? " 

The captain looked at us again, and then said a 
certain number of dollars for the two a price which 
astonished us. 

"Til say right for them," said Gunson. "They'll 
send their chests on board." 

*' There ! " said our new friend, as we walked back. 
''That matter was soon settled. Now go and pay 
your bills, get your traps, and come on to me." 




H 



CHAPTER XTII. 



IN NEW QUAKTEKS. 




a 



UNSON nodded, aud we parted, Esau 
keeping very quiet for a few minutes 
before speaking. 

" I suppose it's all right/' he said ; 
but if ever a chap looked like bad company, he 
do." 

"But he seems as friendly to us as can be." 
''Yes," said Esau. "But what does he want here 
with a pistol ? Some of the people board ship was 
coming to keep shop, some to farm, and some to be 

servants. I want to know what he wants here ? " 
"Perhaps the same as he would in New Zealand, 

and at tlie Cape of Goo 1 Ho])e. I should say he's 

a traveller." 

"Whnt- in? Y.ih ! TTe don't look the sort of 

man people would trust with goods to sell. Traveller ? 
AVhy, you see dozens of 'em in the streets o\i Cheap- 



big 



good-looking folio ws, with great curly 



side 

whiskers and beards. He isn't a traveller. Nobody 
would buy of him." 
"I 



countries. 



mean 



a man who goes 



through 



foreign 



'J 



m NEW QUAETERS. 115 

'' What foi ? " 

"To see them 

Esau shook his head. 

"I dou't think he's a traveller of that sort. I 
say, look out." 

"What is it?" I said, expecting to see a diay 
come along. 

" That cliap " 

Sure enough, there was the dark, yellow looking 
scoundrel watching us, and he followed at a distance 
till he had seen us enter tlie hotel where we had 
been staying. 

We stated tliat we were going auay, and went 
and packed up our few things at once, wliile from 
the corner of the window we had the satisfaction of 
seeing two mote of our assailants come up, and 
remain in conversation with tlie first for a few 
minutes, after which they ^\a]ked away. 

Now, if we could get oif at once, Esau," I said, 
they would not see us go, and when they leturn 
they miglit come and watch here as long as they 
liked." 

E'^au jumped at the i<lea, and went out to see if 
he could find a man to help ns caiTy oui boxes, while 
1 paid our bill. 

Before I had done he was back with Gunson, 
whom lie Imd met^ and told what he was after, with 
the result that they hod returned together. 

" Fm only a poor man," said our friend, with a 
laue^h, " so I thought I mioht as well come and earn 
half a dollar. I thought tjo," he added, seriously, 
*' that it would be better not to employ a stranger, who 
would be able to point out where you are staying, 



ti 



(I 



116 TO THE WEST. 

in cnse 3'our acquaintances want to hunt you out to 
do you an ill turn." 

We were only too glad of bis offer, and in less 
than an hour we were safely in the shelter of our 
new resting place ; while upon Esau's going out to 
reconnoitre, taking a good round so as not to be 
seen, he returned shortly in high glee, to tell us that 
the three men were seated on a stack of timber, 
watching the hotel we had left. 

"And ready for some mischief, I'll be bound," said 
Gunson. " These fellows work in clans, and I shall 
be very glad if we can get away without a crack on 
the head." 

As we sat chatting Avith Gunson the rest of that 
day and evening, he seemed to puzzle me, for some 
times he talked quite like a steerage passenger, just 
as the rough looking man he seemed should talk, 
while at others, words and ideas kept slipping out 
which made me think he mn^t be one who had had 
a f^^ood education. He had travelled a great deal, as 



■\ve knew, but he seemed singularly reserved about 
his intentions. That he was going to the Fraser 
River lie made no secret ; but though he kept us in 
the dark, he somehow or another, now that he was 
more with us, contrived to possess himself of all our 
projects. 

He spenipd nt times quit-e ohnnged, and his 

manner set me wondering why it was that, thoiigh 
Ave had passed nearly five months together on board 
the Albatross, seeing us every day, he had rarely 
spoken to us then, and we parted almost as much 
strangers as on the first day when we encountered 
each other in the dark cabin of the ship. 



IN NEW QUARTERS. 117 

First one and then the other would think he had 
found a clue to our companion's intentions ; but 
when we parted for the night we felt far from suie, 
but more curious than ever. 

" So you are going hunting, are you ? " he said, in 
the course of our conversation. 

'' No/' I said. 

" What do you call it then a chase — wild-goose 
chase ? " 

" I don't see that it's a wild goose chase for two 
lads to come to a new country to try and get on/' I 
said. 

** Not a bit, my lad, but a very worthy thing to 
do. I meant it was rather a wild goose chase for 
this friend of yours to send you in the hope of his 
brother in-law helping you. Isn't he rather an 
inconsistent sort of a gentleman ? " 

"Mr. John Dempster is one of the best of men," I 
said war ml V. 

"Perhaps so; but the best of men make mistakes 
sometimes, and it looks like one to me for him to be 
taking a sick wife right across the country to this 
new home. Tried it before, perhaps?" 

" No/' I said ; " Mr. John was never out of 
England. He told me so." 

"Then he will have rather a startling experience, 
and I wish him well through with it." 

" I say, don't talk like that/' said Esau, suddenly, 
"because my mother's there " 

"Then I wish her well out of it too." 

" Have you ever made the journey?" I said eagerly. 

''Yes, once," said Gunson, :^uietly. "Once as as 
enough." 



118 TO THE WEST. 

"But Mrs. John's brotLei told them he thought it 
would do lus sister good." 

" Well, it may. I'm not a doctor ; but after what 

I went throuoh I sljould hesitate about takin^? a 

delicate woman such a loute. And you too. When 
}ou get to tile 1^'ra^er, how do you mean to journey 

hundreds of miles up to F'ort Eik ? *' 

I was sihuit, for it seemed to me as if we weie 
for the first time coming face to face with the 
difficulties of our task. 

''Dunno," said Esau, thoughtfully. " S'pose there 
ain't no 'buses." 

" No, nor yet cabs," baid Gunson, laughing. 

" Might be a stage coach running now and then, 

p r aps. 

" My good lad, there isu t even a road. Perhaps 
there is a trail. There is sure to be that, of course, 
for the Indians would go to the Fort with their 

pelting." 

" With their what ? " said Esau. 

"Pelts skins, to sell to the company's agent." 

'^Oh," said Esau. 

"But the liver," I said suddenly. " We could go 



up that by a boat, couldn't we ? 



Gunson laughed. 



" Yes, there is a river," he said ; " but, like all 
mountain streams^ boats cannot go up very far for the 
torrents and falls and rocks. Have you any arms ? " 

" Of course," said Esau. 



" I mean weapons." 

"No," I said. 

'' Humph ! Perhaps better witliout them at 

your age." 



IN NEW QUARTERS. llS) 

" You have," I said, as I glanced toward his 

hip-pocket. 

Gunson nodded. 

" Got a gun too ? " sai<l Esau 

*' A rifle or two/' rephod our companion^ rather 
reluctantly; and he rose tlien and Jeft the room, as 
if to avoid being questioned. 

'*Hmiting and shooting, that's what he's after," 
said Esau triumphantly, as soon as we were alone. 

And at that moment I could not help thinking 
that he was right, and that we liad hit ujDon a very 
satisfactory companion, for part of our journey at 
least, if it did not turn out that Guusou had some 
designs of his own. 




CHAPTER XIV. 



A ISEKiOUS '1K0U15LE. 




SAU took it all coolly enough. I believe 
he thought haid sometimes, but it was 
soon over ; and to him the most serious 
thinsjs in life seemed to be makin^f a bisf 
meal and having a good sleep. 

Now for my part I could not help thinking a 
great deal, and worrying so much about the future 
that my thoughts would not let me sleep. 

My thoughts generally took this form '^ Sup- 
pose " 



" And then I used to be supposing : sup- 
pose Mrs. John were taken much worse and died ; 
suppose the party were attacked by Indians ; suppose 
they never got across all that great stretch of country ; 
suppose Esau and I were lost in the woods, to starve 
to death, or drowned in the river, and so on, and so 
on ; till toward morning sleep would come, and I 
began dreaming about that long haired dark Yankee 
loafer, who had got hold of me, and was banging my 
head against the ground, and trying to kill me, till I 
opened my eyes the next morning and found that 
it was Esau. 

" I say," he cried, grinning, *' don t you ever call 



A SERIOUS TEOUBLE. 121 

me a sleepy-headed chap again. Why, I've been 
shaking yon, and doing everything I could to rouse 
you up." 

" Oh," I exclaimed, '' I am so glad ! I was 
dreaming." 

"As if I didn't know. Why, you were on your 
back snorting, and puffing, and talking all sorts of 
nonsense. That's eating 'Merican pie for supper." 

'' I couldn't go to sleep for hours." 

" Yah ! that's what mother always said when she 
was late of a morning, and I had to light the fire, I 
say, wonder how they are getting on ? " 

"So do I. I lay thinking about them last night, 
hoping they wouldn't be attacked by Indians." 

" I don't think an Indian would like to attack my 
mother again. She ain't a big woman, but she has 
got a temper when it's roused. Make haste ; I want 
mj breakfast. 

I was not lono- in dressing-, and on o-oins: down we 
found Mr. Gunson waiting for us, and looking more 
sour, fierce, and foibidding than ever. 

" Come, young sirs," he said, " you must learn to 
see the sun rise regularly out here in the West. Sit 
down, and let's have breakfast. I've a lot to do 



)j 



ready for starting to-morrow." 

'* I'm sorry I am so late," I said. ** I could not 
sleep last night." 

" Why ? Let's look at you. Not ill ? " 

" Oh, no," I said, beginning on ray breakfost to 
try and overtake Esau. 

"No," he said, "you're not ill, or you couldn't eat 
like that. Why couldn't you sleep ? " 

" I was thinking so much of what you said about 



122 TO THE WEST. 

the difficulties before us. I never thought of them 
before." 

'' Ob I " he said, looking at me curiously, '' Well, 
I'm glad of it. But don't woiry yourself. Tbc 
troubles will not come all at once. You can fiuht 
them one at a time, and get over them, I dare say." 

" Then you think we shall be able to get up to 
Fort Elk somehow ^ " 

" If you make up your minds to it, and say you 
will do it. That's the way. There, make a good 
breakfast, and then perhaps you can help me a bit. 
I want to finish bu}ing a ^ew things that one can't 
get up the country. By the way, you will have 
to leave those chcbts of yours up at one of the 

settlements." 

" Leave our chests ? " said Esau, staring. 

'* Why, you don't expect to be able to carry a great 
box each on your head, do yoU; through such a 
country as you'll have to travel. Nevev thought of 
that, I suppose ? " 

" Tm afraid I did not," I said. 

" Of course you did not. Look here, while I think 
of it. Have you both got blankets ^ " 

" No," I said. " 1 thought wo need not buy them 
till we built a houtoC " 

''And don't you want to go to sleep till youVe 
built a house ? My good lads, a thoroughly well 
made thick blanket a dark coloured one — is a man's 
best friend out here. It's bed, greatcoat, seat, 
cushion, carpet-bag, everything. It's even food 
sometimes. 

'"Go on," cried Esau, laughing. "You can't eat 

your blanket." 



)j 



A SERIOUS TROUBLE. 123 

" There was a snake at the Zoo once thought 
differently," said Giinson, laugliing. '' No, you can't 
eat your blanket, but you can roll yourself up wann 
in it somctinios when tliore's no food, and liave a 
good sleep. Qui dort dine, the Fiench folk say." 

" But do you mean to say thxt up there we shan't 
get anything to eat sometimes ? " cried Esau, who 
looked aghast. 

" Yes, often. A man who wants to get on in a 
new country must not think ot eating and drinking. 
Why, I w^ent three days once with nothing but a 
drop of water now and then, and a bit of stick to 
chew, so as to keep my mouth moist " 

I burst out into an uncontrollable lit of laughter, 

and Gunson looked annoyed, 

"It's no joke, young fellow/' ho said; ''and Tm 
not romancing." 

"No, no, no," I panted out; "not — laughing — at 
you. Look — look!" 

I pointed at Esau, and Mr. Gunson's face re 
laxed into a smile, and then he too laughed heartily 
at the comical, horror stricken countenance befo.e 

us. 

" What are you laughing at ? " cried Esau. " I 

say, though, do you mean it ? Shall we have to go 
without sometimes like that ? " 

" Of cnni'cip you wil) " 

"I say, Mr. Gordon," said Esau, in despondent 
tones, " hadn't we better go back ^ " 

"Go back? — no!" I cried. "It will not be very 
pleasant, but wc can eat all the more afterwards." 

E«au brightened up. 

" Yes," he said. ' I didn't think of that." 



>f 



124 TO THE WEST. 

" You neither of you seem to have thought any- 
thing about what's before you, my lads. 

" Then you think we have done very fooHshly in 
coming VI said. 

" Not I. You have done wisely ; and if you make 
up your minds to take everything as it comes, I have 
no doubt that you will grow up into well-to do 
hearty men. There, now, let's talk business. I'll go 
with you and see that you are not cheated while you 
buy yourselves a blanket apiece. Have you knives ? " 

" Yes/' I said ; and we each produced one. 

" Ah, well, you can keep those in your pockets to 
pick your teeth with when you do get anything to 
eat. You must buy yourselves each a good strong 
case knife, big enough to cliop wood or skin an 
animal, and to use for your food." 

" Anything else, sir ? " 

" There are other things you'll want, but you can 

wait till y^u join your fripnd np ot Fort Klk T 

dare say he will bo able to supply you out of his 
store." 

** But he does not keep a store/' I ventured to 
observe. "He is the head man over one of the 
Hudson's Bay Company's depots." 

•''Exactly. Then he keeps a store. You don't 
suppose he gives the Indians dollars for the skins 
they bring in, do you ? He keeps a store of 
blankets and cutlery, and all kinds of useful things 
for barter w^ith the people. Blankets up yonder 

are like bank-notes. Well, what are you looking 
at?" 

"I was wishing I knew as much about the place 
as you do." 



A SERIOUS TROUBLE. 125 

" Have patience/' he said, laughing, " and I dare 
say you'll know a good deal more." 

We went out soon after breakfast, and I had my 
first lesson in frontier life in watching Gunson make 
his purchases after he had lielped us make ours ; and 
the rest of the day was occupied in overhauling our 
chests, and repacking them with things our new 
friend assured us that we should not want, while he 
pointed out to us those we did, and showed us how 
to make a light package of them that we could easily 
carry. 

Twice over that day I caught sight of the man I 
wanted to avoid, but fortunately he did not see us, 
and at last night came, and we sat down to our 
supper with our chests on board the schooner, and 
nothing to do the next morning but walk on board. 

I slept well that night, and we were down in good 
time, Mr. Gunson nodding his approval, and after 
breakfast he said — 

"Look here, my lads, Fve seen those roughs hang- 
ing about as if they meant mischief Of course we 
could get the protection of the law, but that might 
inean detaining us, and as the schooner sails at noon, 
we don't want any complications of that sort." 

"Of course not," I said. 

" So my advice is, that you stop here quietly till 

nearly the time, and then wp'll go on hoard^ though T 

dare say it will be evening before we really start." 

I agreed at once, but Esau looked disappointed. 

"Well, what is it ? " said Gunson. 

" I did want to go back to that store and buy 
something else before we started." 

" Money burning your pocket ? " 



126 TO THE WEST. 

"No, it aren*t that," said Esau, turning a little red. 
Well, you are your own master, niy lad. Go and 



(( 



J) 



buy "what you Avant, and make haste back. 

Esau brightened up, and I rose to go witli him. 

"No, no; I don't want you to come/' said Esau. 
''You stop with Mr. Gunson. I shan't be long." 

It struck me that this was rather curious on my 
companion's part, but I said nothing, only sat and 
looked out at the lovely bay, while Gunson busied 
himself with writing a letter. 

"Theie/' he said, wdien he had done; "want to 
write too ? " 

I shook my head. 

*' Better," he said. ''Mayn't have another cliance 
to write home for montlis." 

" I have no home/' I said sadly, " and no one to 
whom I could write." 

He clapped me on the shoulder, and looked down 
at me searchingly as I thought. 

" Never mind, lad ; you are going to make a home 
and friends too. Some day you may have more 
liiends to write to than you w^ant. 

I walked away to the window, to stand looking 
out at the shipping, wondering liow long Esau would 

be, and what the article was that had taken his 
fancy, till all of a sudden the idea came to me that 
it must be a revolver. 

" Do you know what your young mate has gone 
to buy?" said Mr. Gunson juf:t then, but I avowed 
my ignorance. "I liope he will not bo very long, 
because we may as well be getting on board and 
settling down. Our chests are all light. The captain 
told me that they were right down in the hold, and 



j> 



)) 



A SERIOUS TROUBLE. 127 

well above the clianee of getting any bilge water 
upon them/' 

He went to tlic window I had just left. 

"Looks like fine weather/' he said, " with perhaps 
a little wind. You must try and be a better sailor 
this time; 

The last look round was given, the bill paid, and 
as we waited, I congratulated myself upon the fact 
that we were going (.o escape without another en- 
counter with the loafers, for I felt sure they had 
been watching for us, <^o as to j^iek a quarrel. But 
the time glided on, and Esau did not return. 

Gunson got up and went to tlie door twice, coming 
back each time with a very severe look on his 
countenaiice, as I saw at a glance, for I avoided his 
eyes, fteling, as I did, unwilling to meet some angry 
outburst, and hoping uvery moment to have an end 
put to a very unpleasant state of affairs. 

Over and over again I started at some impatient 
movement on the part of Gunson ; but he did not 
speak, contenting himself with walking impatiently 
up and down like some animal in a cage. 

"Have you no idea wliat Duui has gone to buy?" 
he said at last. 

"Not the Ita^t, unless he has fancied that he 
woull like a icvolver." 

"Absurd !" cried Gunsim ; and there was another 
pause, during which I listened to every passing step, 
hoping against hope that it might be Esau. 

My position was growing more and more painful, 
and at last I could bear it no longer. 

What is it? What are you going to do ?" said 



cc 



Gunson, as I suddenly jumped up. 



128 TO THE WEST. 

"Look for Esau" I said. 

"Sit still, boy. What do you know about the 
place, and which way will you go ? " 

I was obliged to say that I didn't know, but I 
would hunt for him well. 

" It is now close upon twelve o'clock," said Gunson, 
angril}^, "and he has been gene nearly three hours. 
If he is coming back it must ba directly, and then, 
with you gone, we shall miss the boat, and all our 
belongings will go on up north without us. Hang 
him, he must be mad I " 

"But I would not go far without coming back," I 

said. 

" I think, my lad, you may save yourself the 
trouble." 

''What do you mean? He will be back here 

directly ? " 

No. I'm afraid," said Gunson, bitterly, "that we 



ii 



have bepn tnlking too much for him lately/' 

" Mr. Gunson ? " 

"We have scared him with our account of the 
troubles, and he has backed out." 

"Backed out?" I fcdtered, quite horrified at the 
idea of being left alone. 

" Yes, and gone into hiding until we have sailed." 

" Oh, impossible ! " 

"No, my lad, quite possible. You saw how startled 
he was at the idea of a journey through a wild 
country." 

"No, no, I think not," I said. 

"I feel nearly sure of it. He had no real reason 
for going out this morning, and his excuses to get 
away were as slippery as could be. Depend upon 



A SEHIOUS TROUBLK. 129 

it we shall not see him again — at least, I shall not, 
for of course you \vill wait for him." 

" If I thought he could play such a mean, deceit 
ful trick I should go without him," I said hotly. 

"Indeed? Well then, my lad, you had better 
come, for it is high time we were off" 

I stared at him wildly, for what he had said seemed 
terribly likely. Esau had been startled on hearing 
the real difficulties and dangers that we had to go 
through, and much as he seemed to like me, he 
might have been overcome b}' his thoughts, and at 
the last moment felt that he must turn tail. 

"Well? "said Gunson, "what do you say? Will 
you come ? I must be off almost directly." 

"Yes," I said, "you must go, but I'm sure Esau is 
in some trouble. He could not be such a coward as 
that." 

" Then you will not go with me ? " 

" I would if I could think as you do," I said ; " but 
I'm sure he would not forsake me." 

" Human nature, boy." 

"It isn't his human nature," I said boldly. "If 
he had wanted to back out he would have confided 
in me, and wanted me to go with him till you had 
sailed." 

" I have no time to argue/' said Gunson sternly. 

"Whai" ore you g^i^g ^^ do?" 

" I must try and find my companion." 

" But your chests ? — they will be taken on to 
Esquimalt." 

" We should have to go up and claim them after- 
wards." 

" You believe, tiien, that he is staunch ? " 



130 TO THE WEST 

"I am sure of it, sir/' 

"Well, then, good-bye, my lad. I'll speak to the 
captain about your chests, and have them left with 
the agents of the ship, but you will have to give up 
your passage -money. There will be no getting that 
back/' 

" I'm afraid not/' I said gloomily. 

"Yes, they may sail at any time/' said Gunson, 
impatiently. "Better go with me, boy/' 

" No/' I said. 

"You are giving up your passage and your chances 
for the sake of a fellow not worth his salt/' 

" You don't know him as I do/' I replied. *' I 
will not believe it of him/' 

" Well, if he is not staunch you are, at all events, 
my lad. Good-bye. If he does come back run down 
to the wharf at once, the schooner may not have 
sailed." 

"He has got into some trouble, I'm sure," I cried. 

" Good bye/' 

" Good bye/' I said, holding out my hand; but my 
lips quivered, for I was horribly disappointed. 

"Once more/' cried Mr. Gunson, as he giippec] my 

hand hard, " I tell you he is playing you false. You 

had better come/' 

" No/' 

"You are not afraid, are you ?" 

I flung his hand away. 

" No," he said, smiling, " not a bit. There, Mayne, 

my lad, he has thrown you over, but I can't. If you 

stay, I'll stay too." 

" Mr. Gunson !" I cried. 

" Yes, my lad, and we'll see if he comes back/' 



it 



A SERIOUS TROUBLE. 131 

"He will if he can, I'm sure/* I cried. 
" Well, we shall see." 
I am sure he has got into some trouble ; I am 

certain of it. Ah, here he is T 

For the door opered at that moment, but it was 
not Esau, only the landlady, who in broken German- 
English, told us that a message had arrived from the 
captain to say we were to go on board. 

" Thank you. Gtd I " said Gnnson, laconically. 
And then, as the w^oman left the room, he continued, 
"Well, I'll take your view of it, my lad. We'll say 
he has got into some trouble and cannot get back " 
"Yes; I'm sure of it,'* I ciied. 
'^Yery well, then, we must get him out of it. Of 
course it is no use for us to waste time by going 
from house to house. I'll go and see the chief 
man in the police, and see if they can find him 
for us." 

" Yos " I sai(] Oci^^'ei 1 V ■ " comp on " 
"No, no, you stay. He may, as 3^ou say, return, 
and you must be here to meet Iiim, or he may go off 
again, and matters be worse." 
"He'd go to the schooner then," 
''If the schooner had not sailed. You stop, and I 
hope he will turn up hero. 

Anxious as I was to go m search of Esau, I 
was obliged to obey, and I wa^ directly after left to 
myself to pass quite a couple of hours before Gunson 
came back. 

** No news yet," he said; "the police are trying 
what they can do, but if he is in hiding they are not 
likely to succeed.'* 

*' Then he is not in prison ^ " 



}> 



132 TO THE WFST. 

"Oh, no; as far as I can hear, nothing has been 
seen of him." 

"I thought he might have got in some trouble, 
and been arrested. Then those men mubt be at the 
bottom of it, Mr. Gunson." 

" Yes, I thought so, but what could I do ? I told 
one of the chiefs of the police that I was afraid he 
had been attacked, and the man looked serious, and 
said ^ Very likely.' Then he asked me to describe 
the men, and I did." 

" Well ? " I said eagerly. 

''He told me that my description was like that of 
hundreds of scoundrels about the place." 

" Let's go and see if we can meet them anywhere 
about," I said. " They were watching our hotel 
yesterday where we stayed." 

'' Yes, I know," said Gunson, thoughtfully. " It 
hardly seems likely. I don't know, though, there 

are always men hanging aho it ports ready to do 

anything for the sake of a few shillings, all the world 
over." 

I felt a shiver run through me at his words, as my 
busy biain began to suggest endless horrors that 
might have befallen poor Esau; and as I followed 
Gunson out into the road, these thoughts grew and 
grew till I found myself telling poor little Mrs. Dean 
about the loss of her son, and hearing her reproaches 
as she told me that it was all my fault, and that if it 
had not been for me Esau would have stayed at 
home. 

We went along the road, and down to the 
wharves, and to and fro about the hotel where we 
iiad been staying, and there was no sign of either 



A SERIOUS TROUBLE. 133 

of the men who had assailed us. There were, as 
the police had said, plenty of a similar class, many 
of whom resembled them sonicwhat in appearance; 
but our search was entirely in vain, while towards 
evening, as we came out once more where we 
had a full view of the beautiful bay, T saw some- 
thing which made me start, and, full of misery 
and self reproach, I stopped and looked up at 
Gunson. 

"Yes," he said, frowning heavily,"! see. Tliere 
she goes, and with a good wind too. Nice clean 
sailincr little vessel. Wc ou^ht to have been on 

board." 

For there, a mile now from the shore, with her 
sails set, and looking half-transparent in the light 
of the setting sun, was the graceful-looking schooner, 
which I felt must be ours, heeling over gently, and 
taking with her our few belongings. 

"Pretty good wn^te of time ns well as money, 

Gordon, my lad," said my strange looking companion, 
harshly, " But there, it is of no use to cry over 
spilt milk. You could not go off and leave your 
mate in this way, and I, as an Englishman, could 
not leave a fellow countryman I mean boy in 

trouble." 

I tiled to thank him, but suitable "SAords would 
not come, and he clapped me on the shoulder in a 
friendly way. 

" There," he said, '' come back to our friend the 
Frau. You are faint and hungry, and so am I. She 
shall give us a good square meal, as they call it out 
here, and then we shall be rested, and better able to 
think." 



lS4f TO THE WEST. 

I was faint, certainly, but the idea of eating any- 
thing seemed to make me feel heart sick ; but I said 
nothing, only followed my companion back to the 
little hotelj feeling as if this was after all only some 
bad, confused dream. 




CHAPTER XV. 




WHERE ESAtr HAD BEEN. 

E are forgetting one thing," said Giinson, 
as we drew near our resting place ; and 
I believe now lie said it to try and 
clieer me on. ** Perhaps while we have 
been away the tniant may have returned." 

His words had the rpqnired effect, for I hurried 
on by Gunson's side, and was the first to enter and 
ask the landlady if Esau had been back. 

" Nein ! ncin ! nein ! " she cried. " Bood der 



Herr captain send doo dimes for you bode, and 
say he go doo sea mit dout you, and die schip ist 
gone. Ya." 

" Yes, gone," said Gunson ; " and we have come 
hack. Give us some tea and dinner together." 

"Zo," cried the landlady. " Ach you are sehr 
hung rig." 

She hurried awr«y nodding her head, and we heard 
her shrill voice giving orders directly, while Gunson 
began to try and cheer me up. 

" It's very kind of you," I said ; " but what shall 
we do ? " 



136 TO THE WKST. 

" Wait patiently, my lad. There, don't mind 
about me, perhaps it's ail for the best; the schooner 
may get into a bad storm, and we shall be better 
ashore, perhaps save our lives, who knows. There, 
lie down on that bench, and try and have a nap." 

But I couldn't close my eyes for thinking of poor 
Esau. Perhaps he was dead ; perhaps even then he 
was shut up somewhere by a gang of scoundrels who 
might be meaning to keep him till they could secure 
a ransom. 

Ah, what a host of thoughts of that kind came 
rushing through my weary head, which now began to 
ache terribly. 

In due time the landlady came in, bringing us our 
meal ; and, signing me to take my place, Gunson 
seated himself and began to eit, not like a man who 
partakes of food for the pleasure of the meal, but as 
if it was a necessity to supply himself with the sup- 

pOTt requii'ed for doing a great deal of work And 

I suppose it was in something like that spirit that, 
after he had first requested me to eat, and then 

ordered me sharply, I managed to force a little 
down. 

It was getting quite dark, when Gunson said 
suddenly 

" Now is there anything else we could do 
anything we have not thought of ? " 

"The hospital," I said suddenly, as the idea came 
like a flash of light. 

" I did not say anything to you, my lad," replied 
Gunson, " but that was the first place I went to, 
thinking he might have been knocked down. No ; 
try again." 



?J 



WHERE ESAU HAD BEEN. 137 

But no, I could think of nothing else, and my 
despondency was rapidly increasing, when all at once 
Gunson jumped up and said sharply — 

" It's too bad to destroy your belief, my lad, but 
I feel sure that mate of yours is playing you a dirty 
trick. He is a miserable coward, and hiding away. 
The !ad has turned tail and — I'm a fool. 

For at that moment, panting and exhausted with 
running, Esau rushed into the room, with nothing ou 
but his shirt and trousers, and the former torn half- 
way across his back, 

"Esau!" I shouted, joyfully. 

"Then — you're — not g^ine," he panted hoarsely; 
and turning from me, he threw himself into a chair 
at the table and began to eat ravenously. 

" You young scoundrel ! where have you been ? " 
cried Gunson, angrily, 

"Tell you presently," said Esau, with his mouth 
fulL " Go and fetch the police." 

" Police 1 no," cried Gunson, excitedly, " Here, do 
as I do," he continued ; and taking out his hand- 
kerchief, he hastily made a bundle of the meat, 
butter, and bread we had left. 

" No, no," cried Esau, " I'm so hungry." 

" Eat as we go." 

" Where ?" I cried. 

" Boat. We may catch the schooner after all." 

" No, no/' cried Esau ; " fetch the police. They've 
got my clothes, money, everything. I'll show you 

where/' 
"And I'll show you where/' cried Gunson, " if you 

don't come along." 

" But I can't go like this," cried Esau. 



138 TO THE WEST. 

"Can't yon," said Gunson, fiercely. "Here, hi! 
Frau ! " 

The landlady came running in, and began to 
exclaim on seeing Esau's state ; but she was silenced 
directly by Gunson, who thrust a couple of dollars 
into her hands, and between us we hurried Esau out 
into the road. 

" But I can't— my— " 

" Come along ! " cried Gunson, fiercely. 

"And they'll be after me directly," j^anted Esau. 
" Said I shouldn't go till I'd paid a hundred dollars." 

" They had better come for them," muttered 
Gunson between his teeth ; and after that Esau 
suffered himself to be hurried along, consoling him- 
self with a few bites at the piece of bread he held, 
as we ran on to where in the soft moonlight we 

could see several good sized fishing-boats lying, with 
men idling near them on the shore. 

"Now then," crieil Gunson, quickly; "we want 
to be put aboard the schooner that sailed this even- 
incr. Three dollars. There she is, two miles out." 

No one answered. 

"Four dollars ! " shouted Gunson. " Theie's a good 
light wind, and you can soon reach her." 

Still no one stirred, the men starino- at us in a 
dull, apathetic way. 

"Five dollars," cried Gunson, angrily. 

" Say, stranger," said one of the men, ""' what's 
your hurry ? stole suthin' ? " 

" No," I shouted ; " but it's as if they have. Our 
chests are aboard, and we've paid our passage." 

" Come on then," said one of the men, rousing 
himself, " I'll take you for five dollars. Jump in." 



WHERE ESAU HAD BEEN. 139 

He led the way to a little skifF^ two more of his 
coinpanion& following him, and they rowed ns out to 
one of the fishing-boats, made fast the one we 
had come in with the painter, cast off the buoy-rope, 
and began to hoist a sail, with the result that a soft 
pattering sound began under the boat's bows, and she 
careened over and began to glide softly away, the 
man who had gone to the rudder guiding her safely 
through the vessels lying by the buoy near the 
shore* 

*' There," cried Gunson, taking off the pea jacket 
he wore, and throwing it to Esau. " Put that on, 
my lad ; and here, eat away if you're hungry. You 
shall tell us afterwards where you've been." 

''But they've got my money," said Esau, in an 
ill-used tone. 

"Then we must share with you, and set you up. 
Think we shall catch the schooner, skipper? " 

" Guess we shall if this wind holds. If it changes 
she'll be off" out to sea, and we shall lose her. Guess 
you'll pay your five dollars all the same ? 

" Look here," said Gunson, loughly. " You've got 
an Englishman to deal with." 

"Oh, yes J guess I see that but you send some 
ugly customers out here sometimes, stranger. Not 
good enough for yew to keep at home." 

Gunson made no Answer^ but snt watrhing the 

vessel, which, as it lay far out in the soft moonlight, 
looked faint, shadowy, and unreal. 

Every now and then a good puff of wind filled 
our sail, so that the boat rushed through the water, 
and our hopes rose high, i(y: we felt that in less 
than an hour we should be alongside our goal ; but 



'J 



140 TO THE WEST. 

soon after Gunson would utter an impatient ejacu- 
lation, for the wind that sent us surging through 
the beautiful waters of the bay, sent the pchooner 
along rapidly too, so that she grew more faint. 

Once or twice I glanced back at the shore, to see 
how beautiful the town looked with its lights rising 
above lights, and all softened and subdued in the 
clear moonlight ; but I was soon looking ahead again, 
for our chase was too exciting for me to take much 
interest in a view. 

Every now and then the boat tacked, and we 
went skimming along with her gunwale close down 
to the water, when we were all called uj^on to shift 
our position, the boatman evidently doing his best 
to overtake the schooner, which kept seeming nearer 
and then farther off in the most tantalizing way. 

" Guess I didn*t ask you enough, skipper," said the 
boatman. " This is going to be a long job, and I don't 
think we shall dew it now " 

" Do your best, man," said Gunson quietly. " I 
must overtake the schooner if it is possible." 

All at once the wind dropped, the sail shivered 
and flapped, and we lay almost without motion, but 
to our annoyance we could just make out the schooner 
with her sails well filled, gliding steadily away. 

The master of the boat laughed. 

"Wait a bit," he said. "She won't goon like 
that long. P'raps we shall have the ^^ind next and 
she be nowhere." 

Gunson glanced at the oars, but feeling that if 
we were to overtake the vessel it must be by means 

of the sails, he said nothing, but sat watching by me 
till we saw the schooner's sails die away. 



WHERE ESAU HAD BEEN. 141 

" Gone ? " I -whispered. 

" No ; she has changed her course a little and is 
stern on to us. There, you can see her again." 

To my great delight I saw that it was so, the 
schooner having now turned, and she grew plainer 
and plainer in our sight as the moon shone full now 
on the other side of her sails, and we saw that she 
too was becalmed. Then in a few minutes our own 
sails iilledj and we went gliding on over the glisten- 
inoj sea, which flashed like silver as we looked back. 



I uttered a sigh full of relief, for the schooner still 
lay becalmed, while we were now rushing through 

the water, 

*' "Well, my lad," said Gunson suddenly, '* we 
thought we had lost you. How was it ? One of us 
thought you had turned tail, and slipped away/' 

"That wasn't Mr. Gordon, I know," said Esau. 
'* I ain't the slipping away sort. Those chaps got 
hold of me again, and I don't like going away like 
this without setting the police at them." 

"You are best away, my lad," said Gunson. 

" I don't know so much about that," cried Esau. 
" TheyVe got all my money, and my knife and coat, 
and that new pipe." 

"What new pipe?" I said sharply. "You don't 
smoke." 

" Nobody said I did/' replied Esau, gruffly. " Fellow 
isn't obliged to smoke because he's got a pipe in his 
pocket, is he ? " 

"No, but you had no pipe in your pockets this 
morning, because you turned them all out before 
me. 



" Well, then, I'd got one since if you must know. 



» 



142 TO THE WEST. 

** Why, you did not go away to buy a pipe, did 
you V I said. 

" Why, there wouldn't ha' been any harm in it if 
I had, would there ? " he said surlily, as he held one 
hand over the side to let the water foam through his 
fingers. 

" Then you gave us all this trouble and anxiety/' 
I cried angrily, " and have made us perhaps r\iin our 
passage, because you wanted to learn to smoke." 

^'1 didn't know it was going to give all this 
trovible," he said, in a grumblitig tone. 

" But you see it has." 

" Well, I've got it worse than you have, haven't I ? 
Lost everything IVe got except what's in my chest/' 

''And it begins to look as if you've lost that too, 
my lad," said Gunson bitterly. " You'd bettor have 
waited a bit before you began to learn to smoke. 
There goes your chest and your passage money." 

"Yes, aaid ours," I said, as Gunson pointed to 
where the schooner's sails were once more full, and 
she was gliding away. '' Is it any use to shout and 
hail them ? " 

"Stretch your breathing tackle a bit, my la(^," said 
the master. " Do you good p r'aps." 

" But wouldn't they licar us ? " 

"No; and if they did they would u't stop," said 
the master; and wo all sat silent and gloomy, till 
the injury E^au had inflicted upon us through that 

pipe came uppermost again. 

" Serves you well right, Esau," I said to him in a 
low voice. " You deserve to lose your things for sneak- 
ing off like that to buy a pipe. You — pish — want to 
learn to smoke ! '' 



WHERE ESAU HAD BEEN. 14-3 

I said this with so much contempt in my tones 
that my words seemed to sting him. 

** Didn't want to learn to smoke/' he grumbled, 

" Yes, } ou did. Don't make worse of it by telling 
a lie." 

'* Who s telling a lie ? " he cried aloud. '' Tell you 
I wasn't going to smoke it myself." 

" Then why did you go for it ? " 

" Never you mind/' he said sulkily. " Pipe's 
gone — half-dollar pipe in a case — nobody won't 
smoke it now, p'r'aps. Wish I hadn't come." 

"So do I now/' I said hotly. " You did buy it to 
learn to smoke, and we've lost our passage through 

you." 

Esau was silent for a few moments, and then he 
came towards me and whispered 

"Don't say that^ sir. I saw what a shabby old 
clay pipe Mr. Gunson had got, and I thought a good 

noo clean hriar-root our wnnld be a nicR present for 

him, and I ran off to get it, and bought a big strong 
one as wouldn't break. And then, as I was out, I 
thought I'd look in at some of the stores, and see if 
there wasn't souiething that would do for you." 

"And you went off to buy me a pipe, my lad?" 
said Gunson, who had lioaid evciy word. 

''Didn't know you was listening," said Esau, 
awkwardly, 

'* I could not help hearing. You were excited 
and spoke louder than you thought. Thank you, 
my lad, though I haven't got the pipe. Well; how 
did you get on then ? " 

"That's what I hardly know, sir. I s'pose those 
chaps we had the tussle with had seen me, and I 



144 TO THE W£bT. 

was going stoopidly along after I'd bought your pipe 
— and it was such a good one — staring in at the 
windows thinking of what I could buy for him, for 
there don't seem to be anything you can buy for a 
boy or a young fellow but a ktiife, and he'd got two 
ah-eady, when in one of the narrow streets, Shove ! 
bang ! " 

'' What ? " I said. 

"Shovel bang! Some one seemed to jump right 
on me, and drove me up against a door bang, and 
I was knocked into a passage. 'Course I turned 
sharply to hit out, but five or six fellows had rushed 
in after me, and they shoved me along that passage 
and out into a yard, an(3 then through another door, 
and before I knew where I was they'd got me down 
and were sitting on me." 

" But didn't you holler out, or cry for help ? " 

" He says didn't I holler out, or shout for help ! 
I should just think I did ; but before I'd opened my 
mouth more than twice they'd stuffed some dirty 
old rag in, — I believe it was some one's pocket- 
hankychy, and then they tied another over it and 
behind my head to keep it in, right over my nose 
too, and there I was." 

"But you saw the men," said Gunson, who was 
deeply interested. 

" Oh yes, I saw 'em. One of 'em was that long- 
haired chap; and it was him whose hands run so 
easy into my pockets, and who got off my coat and 
weskit, and slit up my shirt like this so as to get at 
the belt I had on with my money in it. He kad 
that in a moment, the beggar ! and then if he didn't 
say my braces were good 'uns and he'd change. 



WHERE ESAU HAD BEEN. 145 

They were good 'uns too, real leather, as a 
saddler '* 

" Well ? " said Gunsou. '' What took place 
then ? " 

"Nothing; only that long-haired chap grinned at 
me and kicked me twice. 'Member that policeman 
as took us up, Mr. Goidon ? " 

"Yes." 

"I only wish I could hand that long-haired chap 
over to him. Strikes me they'd cut his hair very 
short for him before they let him go/' 

"But what happened next?" 

"Nothing, sir; only they tied my hands belnnd 
me, and then put a rope round my ankles, and then 
one took hold of my head and another of my feet, 
and they give me a swing, and pitched me on to a 
heap of them dry leaves like we used to see put 
round the oranges down in Thames Street." 

"Indian corn," snid Onnson, shortly. 

"Yes; and then they went out, and I lieard *em 
lock the door, leaving me in the half dark place 
nearly choked with that hankychy in my mouth." 

"Yes; go on, Esau," I said eageily. And just 
then the master of the boat spoke 

" Say, youngster, you was in for it. They meant 

to hit you over the head to-night, and chuck you 
into the harbour after dark " 

" Yes," said Gunson. 

"Well, I saved 'em the trouble," said Esau. *'0h, 
I just was mad about that pipe ; and I seemed to 
think more about them braces than I did about the 
money, because, you see, being sewed up like in a 
belt I never saw the money, and I used to see the 



146 TO THE WEST. 

braces, and think what good ones they was, every 
day." 

" Go on, Esau," I said. " How did you ^ut 



away ? " 

"Well, I lay there a bit fiightened at first and 
listened, and all was stiil ; and then I began to 
wonder what you and Mr. Gunson would think 
about me, and last of all, as I couldnt hardly 
breathe, and that great rag thing in my mouth half 
choked me, I turned over on my face, and began 
pushing and pushing like a pig, running my nose 
along till I got the hankyciiy that was tight round 
my face down over my nose, and then lower and 
lower over my mouth and chin, till it was loose 
round my neck." 

I glanced round and saw that the man who was 
forward had ciept back, and that the other who held 
the sheet of the sail, and the master who was steel- 
ing, were all listening attentively, while the boat 
rushed swiftly through the water. 

"Next job," said Esau, "was to get tljat choking 
rag out of my mouth , and hard work it was, foi 
they'd rammed it in tight, and all the time I was 
trying I was listening too, so as to hear if they 
were coming. I say, ought one to feel so fiiglitened 
as I did then ? " 



"Most people do" sind Gunson quietly. 

" And 'nutf to make 'em," said the master. 

" "Well, I kept on working away at it for wliat 
seemed to be hours," continued Esau, "but all I 
could do was to get one end of the rag out between 
my teeth, and I couldn't work it any further, but lay 
there with my jaws aching, and feeling as if I hadn't 



WHERE ESAU HAD BEEN. 147 

got any hands or feet, because they'd tied 'cm so 
tight. 

"It was very horrid, for all the time as I lay there 
I was expecting them to come back, and I thought 
tliat if they did, and found me trying to get the 
things off, they'd half kill me. And didn't I wish 
you'd been there to help me, and then was sorry I 
wished it, for I shouldn't have liked anybody to have 
been in such a fix. 

" I got so faint and dizzy at last that things began 
to go up and down, and round and round, and for 
ever so long I lay there thinking I Avas aboard ship 
again in the storm, just like when I was off my head 
at home with the fever I had when I was a little 
cliap. But at last I came to again, and lay on my 
side wonderinfif how I could oret that horrible cliok- 
ing thing out of my mouth, for I couldn t move it 
even now when I tried again, only hold a great piece 
between my teeth. 

" The place was very dark, only light came in 
here and there through cracks and holes where the 
knots had been knocked out cf some of the boards; 
and as I thought I said to myself, if I could get 
that thing out I might call fDr help ; but directly 
after I felt that I dared not, for it would p'r'aps 
bring some of those chaps back. 

"All at once, where the light came through a hole, 
I saw something that made my heart jump, and I 
wondered I had not seen it before. It was a hook 
fastened up against one of the joists, with some bits 
of rope hanging upon it. It was a sharp kind of 
thing, like the meat-hooks you see nailed up against 

the sides of a butcher's shop ; and I began rolling 



148 TO THE WEST. 

myself over the rustling leaves, over and over, till I 
was up against the side, and then it was a long time 
before I could get up on my knees and look up at 
the hook. 

"But I couldn't reach it, and I had to try and get 
on to my feet. It took a long time, and I went 
down twice before I was standing, and even then I 
went down again ; for though I did stand up, I didn't 
know I had any feet, for all the feeling was gone. 
Then all at once down I went sidewise, and lay there 

as miserablfi ;^s ponld hp^ for I couldn't hardly move. 

But at last I had another try, getting on to my 
knees, and takino- tisfht hold of the edge of one of 
the side pieces of wood with my teeth ; and somehow 
or other I got on my feet again and worked myself 
along, nearly falling over and over again, before I 
could touch the hook with my chin, and there I stood 
for fear I should fall, and the hook run into me and 

hold me." 

*' What did you want the hook for, boy ? " said the 
master, shifting his rudder a little, and leaning for- 
ward with his face full in the moonlight, and looking 
deeply interested. 

" What did I want the hook for ? " said Esau, with 
a little laugh. *' I'll tell you directly." 

The master nodded, and the others drew a little 
nearer. 

" What I wanted was to hold that end of the great 
rag in my teeth, and see if I couldn't fix it on the 
hook ; and after a lot of tries ] did, and then began 
to hang back from it gently, to see if I couldn't draw 
the stuff out of my mouth." 

" And could you ? " I said eagerly. 



WHERE ESAU HAD BEEN. 140 

"Yes; it began to come slowly more and more, 
till it was about half out, and then the sick feeling 
that had come over mc again got worse and worse, 
and the hook and the great dark warehouse place 
swam round, and I didn't know any more till I 
opened my eyes as I kiy on the leaves, staring at a 
great wet dirty rag hanging on that hook, and I 
was able to breathe freely now. 

" I felt so much better that I could think more 
easily ; but I was very miserable, for I got thinking 
about you two, and I knew I must have been theie 
a very long time, and that the schooner was to sail 
at twelve o*clock, so I felt sure that you would go 
without me, and think I'd been frightened and 
wouldn't come." 

"That's what I did think," said Gunson ; "but 

Mayne Gordon here stuck up for you all through." 

" Thankye, Mr. Gordon," said Esau, who was 
gently chafing his wrists. "That's being a good mate. 
No, I wouldn't back out. I meant coming when I'd 
said I would. Well, next thing was to get my hands 
clear, and that done, of course I could easily do my 
legs. So I began to get up again, with my feet 
feeling nowhere ; and as I tried, to wonder what I 
was going to do next, for I couldn't see no way of 
getting out of a place with no windows in, not even 
a skylight at the top. But anyhow I meant to have 
that rope off my hands, and I was thinking then that 
if the hook could help me get rid of the rag, it might 
help me to get rid of the tie round my wrists." 

" 0' course," said the master " See, lads," he said, 
turning round to his two companions; "he gets the 
hook in threw the last knot and hitches the end 



150 TO THE WEST. 

out. That*s easy enough; " and the two men uttered 
a low growl. 

" Oh, is it ? '* said Esau. " Just you be tiyd up 
with your hands behind you for hours, and all pins- 
and needles, and numb, and you try behind you to 
get that hook through the knot in the riglit place. 
You wouldn't say it was easy." 

" But anyways that was hard, I reckon," said tlie 
master. 

*' Yes, that was hard/' said Esau ; " but I kep on 
seeming to tighten it, and the more I tried the worse 
it was; till all at once, as I strained and reached up 
behind me, I slipped a little, and the hook was fast 
somehow, and nearly jerked my arms out of my 
shoulders as I hung forward now, with my feet giving 
way, and I couldn't get up again," 

" If a fellow had on'y ha' been there with a knife/' 
said the master, shaking his head, 

"Yes; but he wasn't," cried Esau; "and there I 
hung for ever so long, giving myself a bit of a wriggle 
now and then, but afraid to do much, it hurt so, 
dragging at my arms, while they were twisted up. 
I s'pose I must have been 'bout an hour like that, 
but it seemed a week, and I was beginning to get 
sick again, when all at once, after a good struggle, I 
fell forward on to my face in amongst the dry leaves. 
My wrists and hands were tingling dreadfully, but 
they did not feel so numb now ; and after a bit, as I 
moved them gently up and down, one over the 
other, so as to get rid of the pain, I began to find 
I could move them a little more and a little more, 
till at last, as I worked away at them in a regular 
state of 'citement, I pulled one of 'em right out, 



WHERE ESAU HAD BEEN, 151 

and sat up comfortable with my hands in my 
lap." 

"Well done, well done/' cried the master; and I 
could not help joining in the murmur of satisfaction 
uttered by the men. 

" And then yew began to Icok at the rope round 
your legs/' said one of the latter. 

"That I just did/' said Esau; "but my fingers 
were so bad it took me hours, as it seemed, before I 
had those knots undone." 

"But yew got 'em ofF^ " said the master. 

" Oh yes, I got 'em off at last, every knot undone ; 
but when I'd unwound the rope, there I sat, feeling 
as if it was not a bit of use, for I could not move my 
feet, nor yet stand. They felt as if they were made 
of wood/' 

"Yew should have chafed 'em, stranger/' said one 

of the men. 

" Well, of course that's w^hat ho did do, mate/' snid 

the master, reprovingly ; " and yew got 'em to work 

easy at last, didn't you ? " 

" Yes, that's what I did do, when they would work. 
I had to set to and see if I couldn't get away out of 
that place/' 

" 'Fore them scallywags come back/' said the 
master, drawing a long breath. " That's right," 

" There was the door locked fast/' continued Esau, 
" and I knew I couldn't get out that way ; so as 

there was no windows, and the boards were all nailed 
down tight, the only way seemed to be through the 

roof." 

" I know/' said the master^ changing the course of 

the boat. "Yew meant to get up, knock off some 



152 TO THE WEST, 

shingles, and then let yewrself down with the two 
ropes tied together." 

" Look here," said Esaii, iU humourcdly, ** you'd 
better tell the story." 

'* No, no, stranger; go on, go on," said the master, 
apologetically, *' Go on, go on." 

"Well, that's just what I was going to do," said 
E&au, condescendingly, "only there wasn't any 
shingles that I saw, but the place was covered over 
with wooden slates." 

" Those are what they call shingles, my lad," said 
Gunson. 

"Oh, very well, I don't care," said Esau, acidly. 
"All I know is, I joined those two pieces of rope 
together, tied one end round my waist, and I was 
just going to climb up the side to the rafters, when 
I thought to myself I might meet somebody outside, 
who'd try to stop me ; and though I felt that you 

two would be o-one I didn't Avant to have taken all 

my trouble for nothing, and be locked up there 
again. So I had a bit of a look round, and picked 
out from some wood in a corner a pretty tidy bit, 
with a cfood headache at the cud." 

The master cl}ucklod 

"And I'd no sooner done that than I heard some 

one coming." 

"Did yew get behind the door?" said the master 

hoarsely. "Yew said it was daik." 



" I do wish you'd let me go on my own way," said 
Esau, in an ill used tone. 

"Yes, yes, yes; go on, my lad, go on," said the 
master. 

" Why can't you let him bide ! " growled the 



WHERE ESAU HAD BEEN. 153 

others ; and I saw Gunson looking on in an amused 
way, as he turned from watching the distant schooner, 
far enough away now. 

*' My wrists and my ankles ache so I can't hardly 
bear it," continued Esau ; " and when you keep on 
putting in your spoon it worries me." 

" Yes, yes, my lad ; I won't do so no more/' 

" 'Tain't as if I was a reg'lar story-teller/' grumbled 
Esau. '*! ain't used to this sort o' thing/' 

''Go on telling us, Esau," J said. *'They were 
only eager to know." 

'* Well," he continued, " that's what I did do, as it 
was dark. 1 got behind the door with that there 
stick in my hand, just as I heard the key rattling in 
the lock, and then the door was opened, and the 
leaves rustled, and I saw just dimly that there long 
haired chap's head come in slowly ; and he seemed 
to me to look puzzled, as he stared at the heap of 
leaves as if he thought I'd crept under 'em and gone 
to sleep/' 

At this moment I looked round, to see in the 
bright moonlight tlie faces of the master and the 
two fishermen watching Esau excitedly, as they 
waited for the end of the scene he described. Gun- 
son's face was in shadow now, but he too was leaning 
forward, while, in the interest of the recollection of 
what he had passed through, Esau began to act as 
well as speak. He raised one hand as if it was still 
grasping the head-aching stick, and leaned toward 
the listeners, looking from one to the other as he 
spoke, and as if the narrative was intended expressly 
for them and not for us. 

'*A11 at once/' continued Esau, **he took a step 



154 TO THE WEST. 

forward toward the heap of leaves, and then another, 
and then he turned sharply round as if he had heard 
me move ox felt I was close behind him. But when 
a man tries to jump out of the way, he don't move 
so quickly as a big stick. I'd got that well up with 
both hands, and down it came right on his head, 
and there he was lying just about where him and 
the rest of 'em had pitched me/' 

"Ahr* ejaculated the master, and his two com* 
panions gave a shout and jumped up. 

" Sit down, will yew ! " he shouted. " Want to 
swamp the boat. He arn't done yet." 

"Not quite," said Esau. " I felt horrid frightened 
as soon as I'd done it, for fear I'd given it him too 
hard, and I turned to run out of the place, but I 
could hear a lot of men talking, so I took out the 
key, put it inside, and shut and locked the door. 
Then I clambered up the side and soon had some 
of those wooden slates off, to find as I crawled on 
to the roof that it was quite evening, and where- 
abouts I was to get down I couldn't tell. I dare not 
stop though, for fear the others should come to look 
after their mate, so unfastening tiie rope from my 
waist I tied it to a rafter, slid down as far as it 
would reach, and hung swingmg at the end, think- 
ing that it was all no good, for you two would be 
gone; and then T dropped^ aud found myself in a 
yard. 

"Some one saw me and shouted," continued Esau, 
" but I didn't stop to hear what he had to say, for I 
went over first one fence and then another till I got 
out into a lane, at the bottom of which was a street ; 
and then I went into one after the other, looking like 



WHERE ESAU HAD BEEN. 155 

a fellow begging, till I knew where I was, and got 

down at last to the hotel." 

" And well done too ! " cried Gimson, clapping him 

on the shoiilder. " All to get me a new pipe, eh ? " 
" Yes ; and Hi get you another too some day." 
" I knew you wouldn't leave me in the lurch, 

Esau," I whispered ; and then I started, for the 

master brought down his hand with a heavy slap on 

his knee. 

" That was a good 'un,*' he cried. " There's too 
many o' them sort in 'Frisco, and it gives the place a 
bad name. I don't wish that loafer any harm, but I 
hope you've killed him." 

" I hope not," I said, fervently. 

" Best thing as could happen to him, my lad," said 
the man. *' You see he's a regular bad 'un now, and 
he'd go on getting worse and worse, so the kindest 
thing your mate could do was to finish him off. But 
he arn't done it. Them sort's as hard as lobsters. 
Take a deal o' licking to get through the rind." 

" Hah ! " ejaculated Gunson just then. 

"What's matter?" 

" She is leaving us behind," said Gunson, as he 
looked sadly out to sea. 

" Now she arn't," said the master ; " and I arn't 
going to let her. Her skipper and me's had many 
a argyment together 'bout his craft, and he's 
precious fond o' jeering and fleering at me about my 
bit of a cutter, and thinks he can sail twiced as fast. 
I'm going tew show him he can't." 

" Do you think you can overtake him then ? " I 
cried eagerly. 

''Dunno about overtake, my lad, but I'm going 



156 TO THE WEST. 

to overhaul him. Here, Zeke, come and lay hold of 
this here tiller. You keep her full. Elim, you and 
me's going to get up that forsle. I'm going tew put 
yew chaps aboard o' that schoDner if I sail on for a 
week." 

" Without provisions ? " said Gunson, sadly. 

"Who says 'thout provisions," retorted the man. 
" There's a locker forrard and there's a locker aft, 
for we never know how long we may be getting 
back when we're out fishing. [ say I'm going to put 
you aboard that there schooner for the dollars as we 
greed on first, and if I don't, why I'm more of a 
Dutchman than lots o' them as comes from the east 
to set up business in Trisco. There I " 




CHAPTER XVI. 




EMULATING THE CORNISHMEN. 

NWITTINGLY we had made friends 
with the master of the little fishing 
craft and his men ; and as we sat 
watching them in the moonlight, and 
looking away at the schooner which always stood 
out in the distance faint and misty, as if some thing 
of shadow instead of real, a spar was got out from 
where it was lashed below the thwarts, and run out 
over the bows, a bolt or two holding it in its place, 
while the stays were made fast to the masthead 
and the sides of the boat. Then a large red sail was 
drawn out of the locker forward, bent on, run up, 
and the boat heeled over more and more. 

"Don't capsize us," said Gunson. '' Can she bear 
all that sail ? " 

"Ay, and more too. If we capsized yew we 
should capsize ourselves too, and what's more, our 
missuses at home, and that wouldn*t do. We won't 
capsize yew. Only sit well up to the side, and don t 
mind a sprinkle of water now and then, I'm going 
to make the old girl fly." 



158 TO THE WEST. 

He chuckled as he saw the difference the fresh 
spread of canvas had made in the boat*s progress^ 
and, taking the tiller now himself, he seemed to send 
the light craft skimming over the sea, and leaving an 
ever widening path of foam glittering in the moon- 
light behind. 

" That's different, my lads, eh ? " the master said, 
with a fresh chuckle. " Yew see yew were only kind 
o' passengers before — so many dollar passengers ; 
now yew're kind o' friends as we wants to oblige, 
while we're cutting yonder skipper*s comb for him. 
Say, do yew know what they do in Cornwall in Eng- 
land ? I'll tell yew. When they want to make a 
skipper wild who's precious proud of his craft, they 
hystes up a bit more sail, runs by him, and then 
goes aft and holds out a rope's end, and asks him if 
they shall give him a tow. That's what I'm going 
to do to the schooner's skipper, so don't you fret 
no more. You hold tight, and you shall be aboard 

some time." 

" I hope we shall," said Gunson quietly ; but I 
could feel that there was doubt in his tones, and as I 
looked at the shadowy image away there in the 
offing, the case seemed very hopeless indeed. 

We had been sailing for some time now, but the 
distance from the city was not very great, the wind 

not hfiving hppn favourable Consequently our 

course had been a series of tacks to and fro, like the 
zigzags of a mountain road. Still we had this on 
our side — the schooner had to shape her course in 
the same way, and suffer from the constant little 
succession of calms as we did. 

The confident tone of our skipper was encouraging, 



EMULATING THE CORNISHMKN. 159 

but we could not feel very sure when we saw from 
time to time that the schooner was evidently leaving 
us behind. But we had not calculated on our man's 
nautical knowledge, for as we got further out he 
began to manceuvre so as to make shorter tacks, and 
at last, when the moon was rising high in the heavens, 
and we were getting well out from under the influ- 
ence of the land, the easy way in which the course 
of the boat could be changed gave us a great advan- 
tage, and towards midnight our hopes rose high. 

"There," said our skipper, ''what do yew say now ? 
That's a little craft to move, ain't she ? " 

"Move? she flies," said Gunson; "but with this 
wind, arn't you carrying too much sail ? " 

** Not enough," said the skipper gruffly. " You 
let me alone. Only thing that can hurt us is a spar 
going, and they won't do that. That there mast and 
bowsprit both came from up where you're going 
Vancouver Island, There's some flrie sticks of 
timber up there." 

We eased off the way of the boat a little, for water 
was lapping over the bows, and even he had tacitly 
agreed that we were heeling over more than was 

quite safe. 

"Swab that drop o' juice up," he growled; and 
one of the men quietly mopped up the water, of 
which there was not enough to bale. 

"She must see us now," said Gunson, after another 
long interval, during which we all sat holding on by 
the gunwale. 

" See us ? Oh, she sees us plain enough." 

" Then why doesn't she heave to ? " 

"Skippei's too obstmt. Perhaps he dan't think 



160 TO THE WEST. 

there's any one aboard, foi it's misty to make 
anything out in the moonlight, even with a glass. 
PVaps he knows the boat again, and won't take 
no heed because it's me. But you wait a bit ; we're 
going through the water free now, eh, squire ? " 

" You'll sink her directly," said Esau, who had 
already grasped the fact that a vessel was always 
"she." 

" Not I. I say, you didn't expect a ride like this 
t'night, did yew ? " 

" No," said Esau, whose attention was all taken 
up with holding on to the side. 

**No, not yew. Steady, ray lass, steady," he said 
softly, as the boat made a plunge or two. '' Don't 
kick. Say, youngster, any message for that there 
chap as you hit ? " 

" Yes ; tell him I'll set the police to work if ever 
I come back here." 

"Right, I'll t*^ll hh^i. T knnw where to find him." 

"Where will that be ? " I said, wondering whether 
he meant the very worst ; and I breathed more freely 
as I heard his answer. 

"In the hospital, lad, in the hospitaL They'll 
have to mend the crack in his head, for I dessayyour 
mate here hit as hard as he could." 

"I did," said Esau. 

And now we sat in silence gazing at the moonlit 

water, with its wonderful flecks of silvery ripple, 
then at the misty schooner, and then across at the 
lights of the city ; while I wondered at the fact that 
one could go on sailing so long, and that the dis- 
tance looked so small, for a mile at sea seemed to be 
a mere sham. 



EMULATING THE COENISHMEN. 161 

" What do yew say now ? " said the master an 
hour later. " Shall we overhaul her ? " 

** Yes, we must catch her now," said Gunson, ex 
citedly. *' Don't overdo it when Ave are so near 
success." 

" Yew let me alone ; yew let me be," he grumbled. 
" I'm going to putt yew aboard that craft, first, because 
I think yew all ought to be helped ; and second, 
because I want to show the schooner's skipper that 
he arn t everybody on these shores." 

On we went through the silver water, with the 
path behind us looking like molten metal, and the 
wind seeming to hiss by us and rattle in the boat's 
sails, we went so fast. Every now and then from 
where I sat I could look down and see that the lee 
bulwark almost dipped under water, but alw.iys 
when it was within apparently half an inch of the 
surface the master eased the boat and it rose a little. 

The schooner was going on the opposite tack to 

ours, so that when at last we crossed her we seemed 
so near that one might have bailed ; but in obedience 
to the master's wish we passed on in silence, so as to 
let him enjoy the triumph of over-sailing the bigger 
vessel, and then hailing her after the Cornwall 
fashion of which he had boasted. 

"Now," he said, " we're ahead." And almost at that 
moment there was a loud crack, the mast went by 
the thwarts, and the sails lay like the wings of a 
wounded bird upon the silvery sea. 



CHAPTER XVII 



cc 



irS TnEM. 



» 



» 




AL" said the master, ''reckon that arn't 
quite such a good stick as I thout it 



war. 



it 



I sat looking despondently at the 
wreck, for the accident had happened just as I felt 
sure of our overtaking the schooner, which was rapidly 
gliding away from us again, when Esau caught hold 

of my arm, 

" I say, arn't going to the bottom, are we ? " 

"All our trouble for nothing, I'm afraid, my lads," 

said Gunson. 

'' What are yew two looking at ? " roared the 



master. 



*' Going to let them two sails drag down 



under the boat ? Haul 'em in will yew 1 " 

These words startled the two men into action, and 

they began to loosen the ropes and haul in the sails 

rapidly, prior to getting the broken mast on board. 
"Wal, might ha' been woise," said the master, 

giving his head a scratch; "but there goes your 

dollars, mister, for a new stick." 

"I'll pay for it," said Gunson, quickly. * 

you lig up the broken spar afresh ? " 



Could 



"it's them." 163 

" Guess Tin going to try." 

" Do you think they could hear us on the schooner 
if we all shouted together ? " 

" No, I don't, my lad. If I had, I would have 
opened my mouth to onced. Here, let me come by ; 
them two's going to sleep. I want to fix that stick 
up again. I won't be able to give the schooner a 
tow this time. He's beat me, but I'll do it yet." 

He set to work getting out the broken stump, 
which was standing jagged above the thwart, and 
looked at it thoughtfully. 

"Make a nice bit o' firewood for the old woman," 
he said, as he laid it down forward before beginning 
to examine the broken end of the mast. 

" Guess yew arn't got such a thing as a saw in your 
pocket, hev you, either on yew ? " he continued, with 
a grim smile. " Not yew ! One never has got what 
one wants in one's pocket. Lend a hand here, Elim, 
never mind about them stays. Don't shove ; them 
sharp ends '11 go through the bottom. If they do, 
one of you youngsters '11 hev to putt your leg 
through the hole to keep the water out. Now, Zeke, 
never mind the sail. Hyste away." 

Between them they raised the broken mast, which 
was now about three feet shorter, tightened the ropes, 
and, just as the schooner was coming back on the 

next taok^ to pass us about half a mile away^ the 

master said — 

" They ought to see as we're in trouble, but I 'spect 
they're nearly all asleep. Here, all on yew be ready, 
and when I cry, hail I open your shoulders, and all 
together give 'em a good aJwi/ 1 Not yet, mind — 

not till I speak. Lot o' little footy squeaks arn t 



164 TO THE WEST. 

no good ; we must have a big shout. Guess we 
shan't haul up the sail till weVe tried whether they'll 
lay to." 

The schooner came nearer and nearer, with her 
sails growing so plain that even the ropes that held 
them glistened white in the moonlight, and looking 
so beautiful as she glided smoathly onward, that for 
the moment I forgot our predicament ; but I was 
roused up at last by the master's voice. 

'' All together ! " he said, quietly. " Hail ! " 

Our voices rose high in a discordant shout. 

" Now again/' cried tlie master. 

Our voices rose once more, aad then another shout 
broke the stillness of the soft night air ; but the 
schooner glided on, her sails hiding everything, so 
that we did not see a soul on board save the man 
at the wheel, whose white face gleamed for a few 
moments as it emerged from the black shadow cast 

by the great main sail 

"They're all asleep," cried the master, fiercely. 
" Here, lay holt, Zeke. I say, squire, take holt o' 
the tiller, and keep her straight. Hyste away, Elim, 
we'll show 'em the rope's end yet." 

" Look ! " cried Gunson, quickly. 

" Eh ? Why, they did hear us," cried the master, 
in a disappointed tone. " Why didn't they hail back ? 
Shan't show him the rope's end arter all." 

For the schooner glided slowly round till she was 
head to wind ; and instead of her sails curving out 
in the moonlight, they were now dark, save where 
they shivered and flapped to and fro, so that a part 
of the canvas glistened now and then in the light. 

" Ahoy 1 " came faintly from her decks, for she was 



a Tm»r. fTi^T^nir " 



ITS THEM. 165 

a quarter of a mile away ; and in a few minutes a 
boat dropped over the side with a splash, and four 
men began to row toward us. 

" There you are/' said the master, grimly ; '''they'll 
take you aboard now. Going up the Fraser, arn't 
vou ? " 

*'Yes, I hope so," said Gunson, as he thrust his 
hand into his pocket, and then handed some money 
to the old man, who took it with a dissatisfied grunt, 
and turned it over in his rough hand. 

" What's this ? " he said roughly ; *' ten dollars. 
There, we said fi.ve. Take tbem back." He held 
out half the money. " No, no : bargain s a bargain. 
Lay holt." 

" But the broken spar? " 

" Don't you fret yewrself about that. I'm going to 
show it to him as sold it to me, and make him take 
it again. There, good luck to you all. Good bye, 
youngsters; and if you find -nny gold up yonder, 
bring me back a little bit to make a brooch for my 

old missus." 

Gunson pressed him to keep the money, but he 
refused angrily. 

" Shake hands, all on yew, and good bye. I meant 
to put you all aboard, and IVe done it, arn't I ? " 

" Indeed you have," I said ; " and we are very 

grateful," 

*' That's right, lad," he said, shaking hands warmly ; 

after which the others held out their hands, and to 

my great satisfaction Gunson said 

" Will you let me give these two a dollar each ? " 
" Oh, very well," grunted the master. " If yew've 

got so much money to throw aAS^ay, yew can dew it." 



166 TO THE WEST. 

" Hillo ! " came from the fast-nearing boat, "what's 
the matter ? — sinking ? " 

" No/' roared the master, " Sinking indeed I 
What yer going off and leaving all your passengers 
behind for ? " 

" Oh," said a gruff voice, " it*s them." 

It was the skipper of the schooner who spoke, and 
a quarter of an hour later we were on board his 
vessel, waving our caps to the master and his two 
sturdy fisher-lads, as, with their shortened sails now 
filling, the boat began to glide rapidly back, while 
the schooner's head was turned once more for the 
open sea. 

"Thought you warn't coming," said the skipper, 
gruffly, aiter seeing that the little boat was swinging 
safely from the davits. 

*'Yes, it was a close shave,' replied Gunson, who 
hardly spoke agcun to us, but went below ; and soon 
after we two were fast asleep, forgetful of all the past 
troubles of t[ie day. 




CHAPTER XVITL 



BRITISH COLUMBIA. 




HEN I awoke next morning it was blowing 
hard, and the timbers of the schooner 
were groaning and crenking so dismally, 

that when every now and then a wave 
struck the bows, Esau turned to me and shook his 
head, 

"Next big one as comes '11 knock her all to 

pieces." 

We did not care mnch for our breakfast, for more 
than one reason, and were glad to o-ct on deck, whirc 
we found Gunson talking witii the ^kipper, or I 
should say Cunson talking, and tlio n]d captain 
rolling an eye, or giving a short nod now and then. 

Aw,ny to iinr riglit lay the const of Califomi i, with its 

pale coloured bare looking cliffs appearing anything 
bi^t attractive ; and as we tossed about in the little 
schooner, I coiild not help thinking how different it 
Avas to the great clipper-ship in which we had sailed 

round the Horn. 

We were soon glad to go below again, and there, 
as Esau could not get at his chest, which was down 



168 TO THE wrsT. 

in the hold, ho was glad to accept the loan of a blue 
jersey from one of the sailors, so as to set Gunson's 
jacket at liberty. 

It was almost a repetition of our experience in the 
Albatross for some days, only in this case we could 
have gone on deck at any time; but there was no 
temptation to do so, for it meant holding on by the 

side, and being soaked by the spray which kept on 
flying aboard. 

During those days Esau passed the greater part 
of his time lying down, and about once an hour he 
got into the habit of lifting his head, and looking at 
me fixedly. 

''I say," he would begin. 

" Yes ? " 

" Don't think I shall take to sailoring ; " and 
I agreed with him that other lines would be 
pleasanter. 

It was not thnt we were so very cowardly, for the 

sailors we spoke to all agreed that it \\as one of the 
worst trips they had ever had along the coast ; and 
we afterwards heard that the skipper had been very 
anxious more than once. But there is always an 
end to bad weather ; and the morning came when I 
went on deck to find sky and sea of a lovely blue, 
and away to my right a glorious green land, with 
swelling hills, forests of pines, and beyond them, 
dazzlingly white in the bright sunshine, the tops of 
two snow capped mountiins. 

As I leaned aft, gazing at the beautiful land, my 
spirits began to grow brighter, and I was turning 
round to go down and fetch Esau to come and see 
the place, when I found that Gunson had come on 



BBITISH COLUMBIA. 169 

deck too, and was looking at me in bis peculiar 
manner which always repelled me. 

" Is that British Columbia 1 *' I said, to break an 
awkward silence, for he stood perfectly silent, fixing 
me with that ane piercing eye. 

" No, not yet — that's Yankee-land still. WeVe 
got to get into the Straits yet before we can see 
our country." 

"Straits — Gibraltar?" I said thoughtlessly; and 
then I felt red in the face at my stupidity. 

"Not exactly, my lad," he s?id, laughing, "Why, 
my geography is better than yours. The straits we 
go through are those of Juan de Fuca, the old sailor 
who discovered them. But from what I know of 
it, the country is very much the same as this. 
Think it will do for you ? " 

"It is lovely," I cried, enthusiastically. 

"Yes,*' he said, thoughtfully, and speaking in a 
quiet soft way that seemed to be very -different from 
his appearance ; " a lovely land — a land of promise. 
I hope your people will all get up yonder safe and 
sound. It is a long, weary task they have before 
them." 

"Can't be worse than ours has been," I said. 

" Well, no, I suppose not ; but very trying to those 
poor Avomen. Look here, my lad," he said, after a 

pnnsft^ '^ how nre you going to manage when you gef 

ashore at Victoria ? " 



i> 



" Start at once for Fort Elk. 
" How ? " 

" Get somebody who knows the way to tell us, and 
then walk on a few miles every day. It can't be 

very difficult to find if we keep along the river bank." 



170 TO THE WEST. 

" Along the towing path, eh ? " 

" Yes, if there is one," I said, eagerly. 

" Towing path I Why, you young innocent," he 
cried, angrily, '' don't you know that it's a fierce wild 
mountain torrent, running through canons, and in 
deep mountain valleys, with vast forests wherever trees 
can grow, all packed closely together — sometimes so 
close that you can hardly force your way through ? " 

"I did not know it was like that,'* I said; "but 
we must make the best of it, I suppose. If we can't 
go twenty miles a day we must go fifteen." 

" Or ten, or five, or one," he cried, with a con- 
temptuous laugh. "Why, Mayne, my lad, that last 
will often be the extent of your journey." 

I looked at him in dismay. 

"You have no friends then at Victoria — no 
introductions 1 " 

I shook my head. 

" And you do not even seem to know that Victoria 
is on an island, from which you will have to cross to 
the mouth of the Fraser." 

" I'm afraid I am very ignorant," I said, bitterly ; 
"but I am going to try to learn. I suppose there 
are villages here and there up the country ? " 

" Perhaps a few, not many yet ; but you will find 
some settler's place now and then." 

"Well, they will be English people," I said, "and 
they will help us." 

" Of course." 

" Where are you going V 1 asked suddenly. 

He crave a little start, and his face relaxed. 

" I ? " he said quickly, and he looked as if he 
were going to take me into big confidence; but just 



BRITISH COLUMBIA. 171 

then Esau came on deck to stand looking shoreward, 
and Gunson turned cold and stern directly, '' Don't 



>i 



know for certain," he replied. '' Morning, my lad, 
to Esau, and then walked forward to speak to the 
skipper. 

''There, Esau/' I said eagerly; "that's something 
like a country to come to," for the fresh beauties 
which were unfolding in the morning sun made me 
forget all Gunson's suggestions of difficulties. 

"Yes, that's something like " said Esau. "What 
makes those big hills look so blue as that ? " 

"They are mountains, and I suppose it's the 
morning mist." 

" Mountains 1 " said Esau, contemptuously, " not 
much o' mountains. Why, that one over yonder 
don't look much bifjcrer than Primrose Hill." 

" Not much," said Gunson, who was walking back 
with the skipper. " Very much like it too, especially 
the snow on the top How far is that mountain 

off?" he added, turning to the skipper. 

'' Hunard miles," grunted the person addressed. 
"Look here," whispered Esau, as soon as we were 

alone, for the skipper and Gunson went below, "I 

don't say that he hasn't been very civil to us, and 

he helped us nicely about getting on here, but I 

don't Hke that chap. Do you 1 " 

"I really don't know," I said with a laugh, 
"Well, I do know. He looks at one with that 

eye of his, as if he was thinking about the money 

in your belt all the time." 

" He can't be thinking about yours," I said drily, 
"Oh dear! I forgot that," said Esau. "But all 

the same, I don't like a man with one eye." 



172 TO THE WEST. 

" But it isn't liis fault, Esau." 

"No, not exactly his fault; but it sets you against 
him, and he's got so much pump in him." 

" Pump ? " 

" Yes ; always getting out of you everything you 
are going to do, and who you are, and where you 
come from." 

" Yes, he does question pretty well." 

"He just does. Very well, then; I want to know 
who he is, and where he comes from, and what he's 
going to be up to. Do you know ? " 

" No, not in the least." 
Same here. Well, I don't like a man who's so 
close, and the sooner we both shake hands with him, 
and sa}'' good-bye, the better I shall like it." 

"Well, Esau, I'm beginning to feel like that," I 
said, " myself." 

" That's right, then, and we shan't quarrel over 

that bit o' business 8oon be there now, I think. 



C( 



shan't we ? " 

" To morrow about this time," said a familiar 
voice; and we both started, for Gunson was standing 






close behind us. " Didn't you hear me come up ? 

" No," I said hurriedly ; and he laughed a little, 
rather unpleasantly, I thought, and walked forward 
to stand with his elbows on the bulwark watchincr 
the distant shore. 



"There !" whispered Esau. " Now would a fellow 
who was all right and square come and listen to all 
we said like that ? Seems to be ahvays creeping up 
behind you." 

" I don't think he did that purposely." 

" Well then, I do. You always take his part, no 



BRITISH COLUMBIA. 173 

matter what I say ; and it sometimes seems to me 
as if you were pitching me over, so as to take up 
with him." 

"That's right, Esau/' I repUed. "That is why we 
sailed off together, and left you in the lurch." 

Esau pressed his lips together, gave his foot a 
stamp, and then pushed close up to me. 

" Here," he said, " punch my head, please. Do. 
I wish you would. My tongue's always saying some- 



ii 



thing I don't mean. 

I did not punch Esau's head, and the little in- 
cident was soon forgotten in the interest of the 
rest of our journey. For "we sailed on now in bright 
sunshine, the uneasy motion of the schooner was at 
an end, and there was always something fresh to see. 
Now it was a whale, then a shoal of fish of some 
kind, and sea-birds floating here and there. Then 
some mountain peak came into view, with lovely 

valleys and vast foi'ests of pines scene after scene 

of beauty that kept us on deck till it was too dark 
to see anything, and tempted us on deck again the 
moment it was light. 

By midday we were in the port of Victoria, where 
the skipper began at once to discharge his cargo, and 
hence we were not long befoie our chests were on the 
rough timber wharf, side by side with those of Gunson, 
who left us in charge of them while he went away. 

"Wish he wouldn't order us about like that/' cried 
Esau, angrily ; " let's go away, and let some one else 
look after his traps." 

" We can't now," I said. 



u 



But we don't want him with us any more. I 



say, I don't think much of this place." 



174 TO THE WEST. 

" It*s very beautiful," I said, looking away over the 
sea at beautiful islands^ and up at the wooded hills in 
view. 

*' But it looks just like being at home in England. 
I expected all kinds of wondeiful things in a foreign 
country, and not to be sitting down on one's box, 

with sheds and stacks of timber and wooden houses 
all about you. We can get thxt at home.'* 

I was obliged to own that everything did look 
rather home like, even to some names we could see 
over the stores. 

"And do you know where the skipper's going as 
soon as he has unloaded ? " 

'' No/' I said. 

*' Up to some place with a rum name here in this 
island, to get a load of coals to take back. They 
only had to call it Newcastle to make it right. 
What are you looking at over yonder?" 

" Those he^^utifiil mountnins across the sea risino- 

up and up in the sunshine. That's British Columbia, 
I suppose, and it must be up among those mountains 
that our river runs, aud where Fort Elk lies." 



)> 



" All right, I'm ready. How arc we to go ? 

" We shall have to find out when some boat sails 
across I suppose. Let's go and find the captain, and 
ask him where we ought to go to get a night's 
lodo^incf." 

" Here he comes back," said Esau. 

" The skipper ? " 

"No, Gunson. Now let's say good bye to him, and 
part friends." 

" There's a little steamer goes across to the settle- 
ment at the mouth of the river this afternoon," said 



BRITISH COLUMBIA. 175 

Gunson; "so well have your chests carried down. 
Here, you two can get some kind of dinner in that 
place, where you see the red board up. You go on 
and get something ready ; I'll join you as soon as 
I've seen your chests on board. The boat starts from 

close by here." 

"No, no," whispered Esau; *'we mustn't trust 
him, because 

Esau stopped, for he had glanced at Gunson, and 
found his eye fixed upon him searchingly. 

"I said I would sec your chests safely on board, 
my lad," he said sternly. " I suppose you'll trust me, 
Gordon ? " 

"Of course I will," I ciied, eagerly; for I was 
ashamed of Esau's suspicions. 

"Go on then and order some dinner," he said ; and 

Esau accompanied me unwillfnjiy to the rough kind 
of tavern. 

"It's like madness," Esau kept on saying. "You 
see if he don't go off with our cliosts, and then where 
shall we be ? " 

" Grumbling because I was so weak as to trust 
him. Never mind ; I'm hungry. Let's have some- 



thing to eat." 

We ordered it, and partook of a thoroughly 
hearty, English-looking meal ; but Gunson did not 
come, and as soon as Esau had finished, he suggested 
that we should go and look after him. 

"But he said we were to wait for him here." 

"Yes, but I'm going to look for my chest," cried 
Esau. " I don't see any fun in losing that." 

" Nonsense ! Don't be so suspicious," I said ; and 
we Avaited on a full hour, with Esau growing more 



176 TO THE WEST. 

and more fidgety, and by degrees infecting me with 
his doubts. 

All at once we heard from the distance the ring- 
ing of a bell; and tlie Englishman who, as he called 
it, " ran the place," came up to us. 

"Didn't I hear you two say that you were going 
by the steamer 's afternoon ? " 

" Yes," I said. 

"Well then, look sharp, or you'll lose the boat. 
She's just off." 

I glanced at Esau, and as soon as he had paid we 
set off at a run, reaching the little steamer just as 
she was being cast off from the wharf. 

'* He ain't here/' cried Esau, excitedly. " What 
shall we do — stop ? " 

"No," I said; "let's go oq. We may find our 

chests on boaz*d." 

"Yes/' he said, sarcastically; "may. Well, we 
can come back a^ain. Oh, what a set of thieves 
there are abroad." 

We were by this time on deck, and after a quick 
glance round, I pitched upon a man who seemed to 

be either skipper or mate. 

"Were two "chests sent on board here belonging 

to us ? 



}f 



" One eyed man with 'em ? " he said, looking at us 

curiously 

" Yes," I cried eagerly. 

"All right. Down below." 

"There, Esau," I cried, gripping him by the arm. 



"' What do you deserve now ? " 

"Punch o' the head, I suppose. Well, hooroar! 
and I'm glad we've got rid of him at last/* 



BRITISH COLUMBIA. 177 

**I don*t know," I said. "I should have liked to 
shake hands first." 

" Come, lads, what a while youVe been," said 
Gunson, coming up out of the cabin. "I told that 
boy to say you were to make haste." 

"What boy?" I said. 

" The one I sent. Didn't he tell you ? " 

I shook my head. 

"Went to the wrong place, perhaps. Boxes are 
all right below yonder." 

** But how are you going to get ashore ? " I said, 
wonder iogly. 

" Same as you do." 

" But " 

" Oh, didn t I tell you ? I thought I'd come across 
with you, and see you well on your way. Esau there 
wouldn't be comfortable without me. I don't know 
when I became such friends with any one before as 
I have with him. Well, did you get a good dinner ? " 

He fixed Esau with his eye, and I saw the per- 
spiration begin to stand in little drops on my com- 
panion's forehead, as he stammered out something 
about '' good — dinner." 

"But what about yours ? " I said. 

"Oh, I was afraid of some muddle being made 
with our luggage, so I stopped and got something to 
eat here." 

" Our luggage ? " I said. 

"Oh yes," he replied with a curious laugh. "Mine 
is below too." 




M 



1 



CHAPTER XIX. 




GUNSON FIGHTS MY BATTLE. 

,UNSON left us then, as if on purpose to 
give us an opportunity to talk about him ; 
and as soon as he was out of hearing, 
Esaa began by wiping the perspiration 
from his forehead with the back of first one hand, 

then with the other. 

*'It's o* no use," he said in a low, hoarse voice; 
" we shan't get rid o' that chap till he has had his 

wicked way of us." 

I was puzzled by Gunson s acts, but all the same, 
I could not help laughing at Esau's comically dismal 

manner. 

" Why, what idea have you got in your head now ? " 

I cried. 

" Him ! " whispered Esau, in a tragic way. " I don't 
quite see through it all, but I do through some of it. 
Look here, Mr. Gordon, sir, you mark my words, he's 
one of that gang we met at 'Frisco, only he plays the 
respectable game. He'd got me into their hands, and 
had me robbed, and then he was going to rob you, 
only I turned up just in time to save you." 



GUNSON FIGHTS Ti\Y BATTLE, 179 

"Look here, Esau," I said angrily; ''if you talk 
any more nonsense like that 111 kick you." 

"All right: kick away," he said "I won't mind; 
but I'm not going to see you served as I was without 
saying a word." 

" What you said was ridiculous." 

"It was ridiklus for me to be served as I was, 
pVaps, but never mind ; you'll see.*' 

"I tell you what you say is absurd." 

" Very well, then, you have a say, and tell me what 
he means by hanging on to us as he does." 

" I cannot explain it, of course. How can^ I tell 
what Gunson means ? All I know is, that it's better 
to have a man with us who seems to know some- 
thing about the country," 

"Ah, but does he?" said Esau, with a cunning 

look. " I don't believe he knows anything about 
it. He's been cramming us full of stories about 
dangers and stuff to frighten us. You'll see it won't 

be half so bad as you say. Hullo ! what's the 
matter ? " 

For at that moment there arose a curious yelling 
sound which sent a chill through me. 

"We've run down a boat," 1 said excitedly, "and 
the people are drowning." 

I ran toward the bows of the little panting and 
snorting steamer, where those on board were gathered 
in a knot, and just then the skipper sliouted an order, 
the clank of the engine ceased, and I caught sight of 
a curious-looking canoe that had come out from one 
of the islands which dotted the channel, and had been 
paddled across our course, 

*' Is any one drowned ? " I said to Gunson excitedly. 



180 TO THE WEST, 

" Drowned ? no. Only going to take a passenger 
on board." 

By this time I was looking over the side at the 
occupants of the canoe, which was formed of skins 
stretched over a framework, and was now being 
paddled up close alongside. Then one of the men 
in her caught the rope thrown to him, and held on 
while a little yellow complexioned boy, as he seemed 
to me, dressed in a blue cotton pinafore and trousers, 
and wearing a flat, black skull-cap, made of rolls of 
Kome material joined together, suddenly stood up 
and threw a small bundle on board, after which he 
scrambled over the side himself, nodding and smiling 
to all around. The rope was loosened by the man in 
the boat, the paddle-wheels began to beat the water 
again, and I watched the canoe as it rapidly fell astern. 

'' Well, what do you think of the Indians ? " said 
Gunson, coming to where I stood. 

*' Were those Indians ? " 

" Yes ; three siwashes and a klootchman, as they 
call themselves — three men and a woman.'* 

I began to regret that I had not taken more notice 
of them, and seeing how I leaned over to get another 
glimpse, Gunson continued 

" Oh. you'll meet plenty more. But you see how 
civilized they are getting, carrying passengers aboard, 
I did not expect to find him here." 

" Do you know that boy then in the blue blouse ? " 
I said wonderingly. 

" Oh yes, I know him. I used to see a good deal 
of him right away yonder in the south ; and now I 
see that he is getting naturalized here. Come up 
from Trisco, I suppose." 



GUNSON FIGHTS MY BATTLE, 181 

" But you don't mean that you know that particular 

boy ? " 

" Oh no. I was speaking of him as a class. He 

must have an object in coming across here/' 

Gunson said this in a thoughtful way that T did 
not understand then ; and as he saw that I was 
watching him curiously, he drew my attention to the 
mainland, towards which we were gliding. 

" There/* he said, " you'll soon be able to say good- 
bye to the sea. It will be canoes and legs for the 
rest of your journey." 

" Legs/' I said laughing ; " I don't think we could 
manage a canoe.'* 

*' No ; but it would be wise to get your boxes as 
far up the country as you can, and that can only be 
by means of the Indians and one of their canoes/* 

"But you would have to pay them/' 

" Of course." 

" And would it be safe to trust them ? *' 

"We shall see, my lad. But patience. They 
ought to have called this place New England. What 
a country and a climate for a man who could be 
content to settle down to a ranch and farm. There/' 
he continued, " I dare say you two want to have a 
chat. I shall be aft there if you wish to say anything 
to me.*' 

He was quite right. Esau was waiting to come 
up and talk, pointing out distant mountains, the 
islands we were passing, and the appearance of the 
land we were approaching, a place all mystery and 
interest to us now. 

"I say/' he cried, "I've been talking to one of the 
men aboard here, and he says it will be easy enough 



182 TO THE WEST. 

to find Fort Elk ; that woVe only got to keep to the 
side of the river, and we shall be sure to get there 
some time." 

" Some time ? " I said rather dismally. " "When 
is that ? " 

" Oh, there's no hurry," cried Esau, enthusiastically. 
''It will be rare good fun going along by the river, 
and through the woods, with no one to interfere with 
you, and order you to copy this or write out that. 
But let's get away from old Gunson as soon as we 
can." 

" You want boy ? " said a mild, insinuating voice, 
and the little fellow in blue stood by us with his 

head on one side, and his black, currant-like eyes 
twinkling in his yellow face. The black close cap 
which he had seemed to wear had disappeared, for 
it had only been his curled up pigtail, which now 
hung down his back nearly to his heels. " You want 
boy ? " he said again. 

He was so close to us now that I could see, in 
spite of his being only about the stature of a lad of 
thirteen, that he must be a man of thirty at least, 
and in spite of his quaint aspect, there was some- 
thing pleasant and good humoured about his counte- 
nance that was attractive. 

" Want a boy ? " said Esau, rather roughly. " He's 

got onft. Can't you see liirn ? Me ' " 

The Chinaman nodded and smiled at Esau, as if 
he admired his fresh-coloured smooth face and curly 
fair hair. Then showing his teeth a little, he went 
on — 

" Me speak ploper Inglis allee same Melican man. 
Velly stlong. Washee. Cally big pack allee over 



GUNSON FIGHTS MY BATTLE. 183 

countly. Cookee, Velly good cookee. Make nicee 
blead. Hot fire, plenty tea.'* 

"No/' I said, smiling at his earnestness. "We 
don't want a servant." 

"Yes; want boy. Quong. Me Quong, talk ploper 
Inglis. No talkee pidgin." 

" Get out ! " cried Esau. '* Who ever heard of 
talking pigeon ! You mean a parrot," 

" Hey ? Fallot. Yes, talkee pallet — pletty polly 
vrhat o'clock ? " 

"Yes, that's right !" cried Esau. 

*' Quong talk ploper Inglis. Allee same Melican 
man. No talkee pidgin, no talkee pallet. Quong 
come along cally big pack. Cookee. Washee clean 

clo." 

"But we don't want you," I said. 
" No wantee Quong ? Hey 1 " 

" No." 

" Ah." 

He nodded as good-humouredly as if we had 
engaged him to cook and wash for us, and as we 
stood there leaning over the side of the puffing little 
steamer, we saw him go from one to another, and 
amongst them to Gunson. But he was everywhere 
received with a shake of the head, and at last, 
apparently in no wise discouraged, he sat down 
forward on the deck, took his little bundle on his 
knees, and curled up his tail again. 

They were a curious lot of people on board, and I 
w^as dividing my time between watching the panorama 
of hills and mountains that seemed to rise up out of 
the sea, and trying to make out what the people 
might be by whom I was surrounded, thinking that 



184 TO THE WEST. 

one or two must be Englishmen, others Americans, 
and some people who had settled down in the 
country to which we were going, when a big, roughly- 
bearded fellow, who was very loud and noisy in his 
conversation, suddenly burst into a roar of laughter, 
and gave his leg a slap, while some of the men about 
him joined in his mirth. 

For some minutes I could not make out what was 
the object which attracted them, but Esau was 
quicker, and gave me a nudge with his elbow. 

" TheyVe going to play some games," he said ; 
and I grasped directly what it meant, for the big 
fellow went quietly up behind the little Chinaman, 
and with a clever twitch unfastened the pin, or 
whatever it was which held up the coil, and the 
long tail untwisted and rolled down on the deck 
amidst a roar of laughter — one which increased as 
the Chinaman turned to see who had played the 
trick, but only to find the man standing ne^v with 
his back toward him, apparently talking thought- 
fully. 

" You puUee 1 " said the Chinaman good- 
humouredly. 

''What?" came back in a voice of thunder. 

" You puUee tail ? " 

The man gave him a furious scowl, and uttered 
a low growl like that of some savage beast, while 
the little Chinaman slunk toward the bulwark, and 
began to coil up his queue once more, after which he 
bent forward over his bundle, his eyes half closed, 
and evidently thinking so deeply, that he was quite 
ignorant of what was passing around. Perhaps he 
was wondering where he would be able to sleep that 



GUNSON FIGHTS MY BATTLE. 185 

night, perliaps of how he was to obtain work. At 
any rate he was too much occupied with his thoughts 
to notice that the big fellow was slowly edging his 
way toward him. 

"They aie going to play some trick, Esau," I said 
softly. " What a shame it seems," 

" Yes ; look. That other chap's going to help 
him." 

"But it's too bad." 

" Yes ; lots of things are too bad ; but it ain't 
our business, and if we interfere we shall get into 
trouble." 

I heard my companion's wcrds, but they did not 
make any impression on me, for I was too deeply 
intent upon what was taking place before me. There 
was the little Chinaman bent forward, blinking and 

apparently half asleep, and there on either side were 
the men, evidently about to disturb him in some way 

or another 

All at once, after exchanging glances with the 
others, I saw the big fellow place his foot just under 
the Chinaman, and give him a lift which sent him 
up against the other man, who roared out angrily. 

" Where are you coming to, you yellow-eyed, wag- 
gle-headed mandarin ? " he cried ; and he gave the 
poor fellow two or three cuffs and a rude push, which 
sent him staggering against his first disturber, who 
turned upon him furiously in turn, and cuffed him 
back to the other. 

*' Why, it's like playing shuttlecock and battledore," 
said Esau grimly. ** If they ssrved me so I should 
kick/' 

But the little Chinaman did not resist in the 



186 TO THE WEST. 

slightest degree ; he only bore the buffeting patiently 
till such time as he could rescue his bundle, and 
escape to the other side of the deck, where, as if he 
were accustomed to such treatment, he shook him- 
self, pulled down his blouse, and, amidst the roars of 
laughter that had arisen, he placed his bundle on the 
bulwark, and folding his arms upon it, leaned there 
gazing out to sea. 

"I do hate to see big chaps bullying little ones" 
said Esau in a whisper, as I stood hoping that the 
horse-play was at an end, for I shared Esau's dislike 
to that kind of tyranny; and though the little Celestial 
was nothing to me whatever, I felt hot and angry at 
what had been going on, and wondered why Gunson, 
a strong, a powerful man, had stood there smoking 
without interfering in the least. 

But my hope of the horse play being at an end 
was not gratified, for a few minutes after I saw the 

two men whisper together, and the big fellow took 

out his knife and tried the edge. 

" Hullo ! *' whispered Esau, * he ain*t going to cut 
his head off, is he ? " 

I did not answer, though I seemed to divine what 
was about to take place, and the blood flushed into 
my cheeks with the annoyance I felt. 

My ideas were quite correct, for directly after the 
second of the two men lounged up quietly behind 

the Chinaman, and before he was aware of it, he too 
cleverly undid the tail, but kept hold of it and drew 
it away tight. 

" Hallo ! *' he shouted, so as to be heard above the 
roars of laughter which arose, "why what's all this 
ere ? 



GUNSON FIGHTS MY BATTLE. 187 

The little fellow put up his hands to his head, 
and bent down, calling out piteously, while the big 
passenger took a step or two forward with the open 
knife hidden in his hand. Then clapping his left 
on the Chinaman's head, he thrust it forward, so 
that the tail was held out tightly, and in another 
moment it would have been cut off close to the head, 
if in my excitement I had not suddenly made a leap 
forward, planting my hands on the man*s chest, and 
with such good effect consequent upon my weight 
being entirely imexpected, that he staggered back 
some yards, and then came down heavily in a sitting 
position on the deck. 

I was as much astonished at the result as he was, 
and as there was a roar of laughter from all on deck, 
he sat there staring at me and I at him, till I could 
find words to say indignantly — 

*' Let the poor fellow be. It's a shame ! " 

The next minute the man sprang up, and Quong, 
as he called himself, cowered behind me, the other 
having in his astonishment loosened the poor fellow's 
tail and set him free. 

"Why, you young cockerel/' roared the big fel- 
low, striding up to me, and bringing his left hand 
down heavily upon my shoulder. " Not to cut off that 
yallow scoundrel's tail, arn't I ? " 

" No,'' I cried stoutly^ though I felt anything but 
brave ; "let him alone." 

" Will I ? Look here, I'm going to have off that 
tail;, and just to give you a lesson, I'm going to try 
the edge o' my knife first on one of your ears." 

I wrested myself away, but he was as quick as I 
was, and had me again directly, holding the knife in 



188 TO THE WEST. 

a threatening way as if he really intended to fulfil 
his threat. 

*' Get hold of the knife, Esau,'* I shouted ; but it 
was not his hand and arm which interposed, for 
Gunson forced himself between us, thrusting me 
right away, as he said quietly — 

** Let the boy alone/' 

" Let the boy alone ! " cried the big fellow, fiercely. 
" No, I shan t let the boy alone. What do you mean 
by interfering ? Who are you ? " 

"Like yourself, man an Englishman." 

"And a precious ugly one too. Here, I don*t want 
to hurt you, so be off and lie down." 

He strode on one side, and then made at me, 
driving me to bay against the bulwark. 

" Now then," he cried, with an ugly laugh, which 

did not conceal his rage, ''I've got you again, have I?" 

" No," said Gunson quietly, as he took him by the 
collar and swung him rounds so that he staggered 
away; but he recovered himself and made at my 
protector. " Keep back ! the boy is a friend of mine, 
and I will not have him touched." 

'' Friend of yours, is he ? Oh, then you want to 
fight, do you ? " 

"No,'' said Gunson, standing firmly before him, 
*^ I don't want to fight, neither do you, so go your 
way, and we'll go ours." 

"After a bit, my lad," cried the man, fiercely. 
" This isn't England, but a country where a man can 

fight if he likes, so clear the course, some of you, and 
let's see who's best shot." 

He thrust his hand behind him, and pulled a 
revolver from his hij:) pocket, cocking it as he spoke. 



GUNSON FIGHTS MY BATTLE. 189 

" Now then, out with your own/' he cried. 

But Gunson seized the man's wrist instead, gave 
it a wrench round, there was a sharp report, and the 
pistol fell heavily on the deck, and was secured by 
one of the sailors. 

"Give him a hug, mate," cried the man who had 
joined in the attack upon the Chinaman. 

" That's what Fm just going to do, my lad/' said 
the big fellow in hoarse, angry tones. *' He*s got hold 
of the wrong pig by the ear this time ; " and to my 
horror he drew back a little, and then suddenly darted 
his body forward and locked Gunson in his arms. 

I had often heard tell of and read accounts about 
wrestling, but this was the first time I had ever 
witnessed an encounter in the old English sport, if 
sport it could be called, where two strong men, one 
far bigger and heavier than the other, swayed to and 
fro, heaving, straining, and doing all they could to 
throw one another. 

There was a dead silence on the deck, and passen- 
gers, skipper, and sailors all bent forward, eagerly 
watching the encounter, but not one with such 
earnestness as I, who fully expected to see Gunson 
flung heavily. But no : he was raised again and 
ao'ain from the deck, but he always recovered his 
feet, and twined and swayed here and there in a way 
that completely baffled his powerful adversary. 

All this took a very short time, but as I watched 
I was able to see that Gunson seemed to grow cooler 
as the struggle went on, while his opponent became 
more enraged. 

The excitement was now intense, and I felt my 
heart beat heavily as I momentarily expected to see 



190 TO THE WEST. 

my defender dashed down insensible, "vvhile a feeling 
of rage at my own helplessness made my position 
more painful. For it was this : I could do nothing, 
and no man present made the slightest movement 
either to help or separate the combatants. Then, 
too, I felt that it was my fault for behaving as I did, 
yet I could hardly feel regret for my interference. 

And while thoughts like these coursed rapidly 
through my mind, I too was watching the struggling 
pair, who swayed here and there, and once struck so 
violently against the bulwark that I gave a sudden 
gasp as I expected that they would both go over- 
board together. But no ; they struggled back again 
to the middle of the deck, Gunson seeming quite 
helpless, and offering scarcely any resistance, save 
when his opponent lifted or tried to throw him, 
when he suddenly became quick as light almost in 
his effort to recover himself. And all the while 

an excited murmur went on amono- those crowded 

together to see the weaker fall. There was no doubt 
as to which it would be, and one of my great dreads 
was lest Gunson should not only be beaten but 
seriously hurt. 

At last the struggle seemed to be coming to an 
end. The big fellow swung my champion round and 
round, and lifted him again and again, just as he 
seemed to please, but could never unloosen the tight 
grip of Gunson's hands. 

" Now, Gully lad," cried the second man, " down 
with him.'* 

These words seemed to act a« a spur to the 
wrestler, and I saw his face of a deep angry red as 
he put all his force now into a final effort to crush 



GUNSON FIGHTS MY BATTLE. 191 

the active man who clung so tenaciously to him. 
They had struggled now so far aft that another step 
would have brought them in contact with the man 
at the wheel; but Gunson gave himself a wrench, 
swung round, aud as he reversed his position the 
big Englishman forced him a little backward, bear- 
ing right over him as it seemed to me ; while the 
next moment, to my intense astonishment, I saw 
Gunson now lift the great fellow from the deck and 
literally throw him over his shoulder, to come down 
on the planks with quite a crash. There was a 
curious cry of astonishment from the group of 
spectators, in the midst of which the second man 
stepped to his companion's side, 

" Get up, my lad," he cried. " Did he play foul ? " 
But there was no reply. The great fellow lay on 
the deck as if dead, and when his companion raised 
his head it went heavily down again. 

"Hfirft, T f!an*t stand this," roared the fallen maTi's 

companion. "You played foul — you played foul;" 
and he rushed at Gunson and seized him, the latter 
only just having time to secure a good grip of the 
attacking party. 

There was a fresh murmur of excitement, followed 
by a roar, as, apparently without effort, Gunson 
threw his new opponent upon his back. 

"Was that foul?" cried Gunson, as he stood over 
him; but the man made no answer. He only got 
up slowly. 

''Here, I want to help my mate," he said surlily; 
and there was a burst of laughter, for the first fall 
had taken all desire out of him to try another. 

By this time the big fellow — Gully — gave signs 



192 TO THE WEST. 

of returning consciousness^ and sat up slowly to look 
about him, gently stroking his head, and accepting 
the offer of a couple of hands as he rose to his legs, 
and suffered himself to be led forward, while I 
turned my eyes now to where Gunson was putting 
on his jacket. 

" Are you hurt ? " I said. 

" No ; only a bit strained, my lad. It was like 
wrestling with an elephant. I was obliged to let 
him have his own way till he grew tired, and then 
that old Cornish fall was too much for him," 

"I'm very sorry," I said humbly. "It was all 
my fault," 

" Yes," he said, laughing. " We ought to go 
different ways now. I can't spend my time and 
strength in fighting your battles. There, I am going 
to see for a bucket of water and a wash." 

He went forward with one of the sailors, while 

as I turned, it was to see the Chinaman looking 

at me in a curious way. But just then Esau came 
between us. 

'' What did he say ? " he whispered ; " that we were 
going different ways now ? " 

" Yes," I replied ; "but I don't think he meant it. 
I hope not. Why, Esau, what should we have done 
twice without him ? " 

" Well, he can fight and wrastle," said Esau. " It 
was quite wonderful to see how he upset those two. 
And that's what I don't like, because if he's so 
strong with those two big fellows, and can do just 
what he likes with them, what chance should we 
liave ? " 



CHAPTER XX. 



A STKANGE HOTEL. 




E landed at a rough wharf at the mouth 
of the wide river, wliere a few shanties 
and a plank warehouse stood just in 
front of a forest of pine trees, the stumps, 
five or six feet high, of many that had heen cut 
down to make room for the tiny settlement, still 
standing up and forming a graceful curve all round 
from the ground to the place where the marks of 
the axe still looked white and yellowish I'ed. 

Our chests were carried out on to the shaky plat- 
form in front of the shanties, one of wliicli was 
dignified by the title of hotel, and to Esau's great 
disgust, Gunson's two chests and a long wooden case 
■were set down close to them. Then three men who 
had been passengers landed, and lastly the little 
Chinaman, who had hung back for some time, till 
the steamer was about to start again, sprang quickly 
on to the wharf, with his luggage hanging to one 
crooked finger. His movements were quickened by 
the big fellow Gully, who, as soon as he caught sight 
of him, made a uish and then leaned over the 

N 



194 TO TPTE WEST. 

gangway, uttering a roar like that of some huge 
beast of prey. This done he shouted to us. 

"Wait a bit," he said. " We shall run aguin one 
another some day. Then we'll all have another 



'' With all my heart," said Gunson, in a loud 
voice ; " but I should have thought you had had 
enough of my manners and custon^s." 

We stood waiting till the boat had gone some 
distance, and then, as the three men who had landed 
had disappeared, and the Chinaman was seated on 
a log at a short distance frcm where we stood, I 
turned to Gunson. 

'* Where does the town lie ? " I asked. 

" What town ? " he said, smiling. 

"The one at the mouth of the river." 

"Oh, there is one over yonder," lie said, "but it 
is not much better than tliis, and as this was the 
handiest for you, I thought you had better stop 

here/* 

I had often felt low spiiited since leaving England, 
but that evening, with the last glow of the sun fast 
dying out over the ocean, the huge wall of enormous 
trees behind, and the 2:Iidin>2: liver in front, and 
nothing but a few rouglily bnilt boarded houses in 
sight, my spirits seemed to sink far lower than they 
had ever bee^^ before 

I glanced at Esau, and he looked gloomy in the 
extreme. But I tried to put a good face on the 
matter, as I said to liim 

" One of us had better go and see if these people 
will give us a night's lodging," 

"You may take that lor granted," said Gunson, 



A STRANGE HOTEL. 195 



" Take hold of one end of my chest here, and let's get 
it under cover/' 

I saw Esau frown, and I knew that as soon as 
we were alone he would protest against our being 
ordered about. But I did not hesitate, helping 
Gunson to get his two chests and packing case into 
the house, when he frankly enough came and helped 
in with ours. 

The people did not seem disposed to be very 
friendly ; but rough as the shed-like house was, 
everything seemed clean, and they were ready to 
supply ns with some cike like, heavy bread, and 
a glowing fire composed of pine-roots and great 
wedge-like chips, evidently the result of cutting 
down trees. 

"Rather rough, Squire Gordon," said Gunson, with 
a lau^h, as he saw mo sittino; disconsolate and tired 
on the end of my chest; ''bub you'll have it worse 

than thi«j. Wliat do you ^^ly fa cninpiiio- out iri the 

forest with no cover but a blanket, and the rain 
coming down in sheets ? you'd think this a palace 
then." 

"I was not complaining," I said, trying to be 

bri'^k. 

"jSTot with your lips, my la I, but }ou looked as 
if you'd give anything to be back in London." 

" Ohj we ain't such cowards as that," said Esau 
shortly. 

At that moment the wife of the settler, who 
called himself in red letters a hotel-keeper, came 
toward us with a large tin pot like a saucepan 

with a loose wire cross handle. 

" Here's a kettle," she said, in rather an ill used 



196 TO THE WEST. 

tone ; " and there's a tub o' water for drinking out- 
side. Got any tea ? " 

"Yes, thank you," said Gunson, good-humouredly. 
"We shall do now." 

The woman left us, and Gunson turned to 
me. 

" Wei], squire," he said, " what have you got in the 
commissariat department ? " 

"Some bread and cold ham," I replied. 

" Oh, but we must have some hot. I've done 
better than you," he said, laughing, and taking out 
of a wallet a piece of raw bacon, which he laid upon 
the rough board table, and then a tin canister. 
"Now then, Esau, my lad, let's see you cut that in 
slices, while I make some tea ready. Gordon, will 
you go and fill the kettle half full ? " 

He spoke so briskly and cheerily that I hardly 
knew the man again, and his words had so good an 
effect upon me, that T soon had the kettle filled and 
seated in the midst of the cheery blaze ; while Esau 
was cutting up the bacon, and Gunson was heating 
and cleaning a bent gridiron, that had been made by 
binding some pieces of thick wire a little distance 
apart. 

" Now then, Dean," he said, " can you cook that 
bacon ? " 



Esau laughed scornfully. 

" Do you hear that ? " he said, turning to me. 
"Why, I've cooked bacon and bloaters at home 

hundreds of times." 

" Good 1 " cried Gunson. " Then you shall cook 
a bit here. There will not be any bloaters, but as 
much salmon as you like to grill." 



A STRANGE HOTEL. 197 

" Salmon ? " said Esau, pausing in the act of 
paring off some bacon rind. 

" Yes ; salmon. The rivers are so full of them 
here sometimes, that they crowd one another out on 
to the shore." 

Esau gave him a look^ and then went on preparing 
the bacon, afterwards setting it to frizzle over the 
clear fire. 

" I must rout up some basins," said Gunson, rising. 
" I don't suppose we shall get any tea cups and 
saucers here." 

He went out of the rough room, and left us 
together just as the kettle began to sing, and the 
bacon to send out an appetizing odour. 

" Well," said Esau, ** that don't smell bad. Seems 
to make one feel not quite so mizzable to hear a 
kettle singing again, I did feel bad a bit back. 
Didn't you ? " 

" Yes : wretched," I replied. 

"And all the more," continued Esau, "because 
old Gunson seems to have taken us into custody 
like, and orders us to do this and do that." 

" But—" 

" Now do let me finish," grumbled Esau. " I know 
what you're going to say, and I'll say it for you. 
You're alius getting into scrapes, and he's getting 

yon out of 'em " 

" And you ? " I said, laughing. 

"Hah ! that's better," cried Esau, pouncing on a 
jiiece of bacon and turning it over. " I do like to 
see you laugh a bit ; seems to make things cheery. 
But I say, when is he goii g his way and going to 
let us go ours ? " 



198 TO THE WEST. 

" How's the bacon getting on ? " said Gunson, 
entering, and the rough board Joor swung to. " Ah, 
nice and brown, and the kettle close upon the boil. 
Know how to make tea, Goidon ? Not our way in 
camp I know. Look here." 

He turned out nearly a handful out of the common 
tin canister, waited till the water in the open kettle 
was bubbling all over, and then threw in the tea, 
lifted the kettle off, and stood it down. 

''Theie," he said, "that's camp fashion. The old 
lady's going to bring us bomething to drink it out 
of;" and as he spoke the settler's wife brought in 
two tin pint mugs and a cracked and chipped basin, 
which she banged roughly on the table. 

Gunson gave me a pecuhar look as the sour 
woman turned away. 

"I say, Mrs, 1 don't know your name." 

"Well, what is it now?" said the woman, in a 

Vinpg.iry tone " T cnn't spend .ill my time wniting 

on you." 

"My dear madam, no/' said Gunson, in the most 
gentlemanly way ; " I only \\ anted to say that a cup 
of 2f0od tea in this wiklerness is a tliino- that one 
may ofter a latly, and as that is thorouf^hly prime 
China tea that I have brought up from 'Fiisco, will 
you do us the honour of trying a cup ? " 

The change in the woman's countenance was 
wonderful. It softened; then there was a smile, 
and her face looked quite pleasant. 

" Well, really, that's very good of you," she said. 
"I'll go and get myself a cup.. A drop of good tea 
is such a treat out here." 

She hurried out of the room, and Gunson laughed. 



A STRANGE HOTEL. 199 

"Here, Gordon/' he said, '*get out that sujjjar 
you'll find in my bag. We must do it well with 
company." 

I brought forth a tin of sugar and placed it on the 
table, and Guuson having tidied it a little by throw- 
ing the bacon rind away, and spreading the mugs 
about, we sat listening to the sputtering of the bacon 
and watchinc^ the flickering of the flames, which in 



}} 



the inci easing darkness began to gild and tinge the 
rough boarded walls with red. 

Just then the woman came back, with two cups, 
a saucer, and another tin, 

" I thought I'd bring you a cup to dip with/' she 
said, "and a drop of ziiilk. A neighbour of ours ten 
miles up the river has got two cows, and he brings 
me a iiltle milk when he comes down to buy stores. 
He was here tliis morning, so it's quite fresh/' 

A few minutes later, and our landlady had finished 

her cup of tt^n^ wlnoh slie. det^Iared to be "lovely, 

while upon a second one being dipped she took it np 
and carried it off, saying she was too busy to stay. 

Left aloue, we pioceeded to discuss our own meal, 
slices of the cake like bread forming our plates, and 
our pocket-knives doing double duty. Great draughts 
of hot tea washed down the bacon, and scarcely a 
word was spoken till Esau sighed, and began to wipe 
and polish his big new knife. 

" Feel better, my lad ? " said Gunson, smiling. 

"Yes/' said Esau, speaking lather reluctantly. "I 
am a bit better now^" 

"A bit ? Why, you are like a new lad. Nothing 
like a good tea meal out in the wilds, my lad, to put 
life into one. Why I've known days when we've 



200 TO THE WEST. 

been ready to break down, or give up, or go back ; 
then we've formed camp, got a bit of fire on the way, 
boiled the kettle with a pinch of tea in it, and eaten 
our cold bacon and damper, and been fit to do 
anything after. So are you two. To morrow morning 
you'll be ready to make your start up the river, and 

this will be like your first lesson in camping out." 

" Which way are you going, sir ? " said Esau, after 
a loner silence, durino- Avbich we had been sittincf 

gazing at the fire, but not until there had been a 
general tidy up of our table. 

''Nor -east," s\id Gunson, laconically. Then in a 
very abrupt "way, ''Now then, you've a hard day's 
work before you to-moirow, so roll yourselves up in 
your blankets and go to sleep." 

"Where?" I said. "She lias not showed -us our 
bedroom." 

'^ No, because this is, as the old song says, ' parlour 
and kitchen and hall/ with sleeping accommodation 
included. There are plenty of fine spreading spruces 
outside, though, if you prefer a bed there," 

" Oh no," I said, as I began to realize that our 
journey now was going to be very rough indeed ; and 
thoroughly aj>preciating the value of the blanket I 
had brought, I rolled myself in it, and lay down to 
think wonderingly of where we should be to-morrow. 
I knew that I could not go to sleep, but thought 
it better to obey Gunson in every way while he was 
with us ; and as I lay there, I saw him rise and stand 

thoughtfully before the fire, while almost directly a 
sound arose from close by me as if Esau was prac- 
tising ventriloquism, and wanted to give a good 
imitation of wood sawing. 



A STRANGE HOTEL. 201 

This grew so exa^porating at last, that I should 
have kicked him to wake him up if I had not been 
prevented by my blanket, which was twisted so tightly 
round my legs that they would not move. 

"I suppose he must be lying on his back," I 
remember thinking; and directly after, as it seemed 
to me, when I looked at Gunson, whose figure just 
before stood out big and black before the glowing 
fire, he was not there, 

I think I considered it rather strange, but I was 

under the impression directly fifier that he had lain 

down too. Then there was a low, dull, humming 
sound, which I knew came from the river, and then 
I was looking up at Gunson, who was standing over 
me, with the fire lighting him on one side, and the 
broad, warm glow of the rising sun on the other. 




W^--- 



CHAPTER XXI. 



OUR :\IOKNING BA.TJI, 



et 




If it ain't to morrow morning ! " 



ELL, have you had a good night's re^t V 
cried Gunson, smiling at me. 

"Have — have I been asleep?" I 

said, sitting up. 

"Asleep? Yes, for a good eight hours. There, 

tumble np. Your washhand ba^in is waiting for you. 

Now, Dean/' he continued, touching him with his 

foot, "are you going to lie theie all day ?" 

"Don't — I say, be quiet. I've only just closed my 

eyes. Why! Eh? 

He got up and shook himsolf, and then followed 
my example of folding up my blanket. 

" Can you lads swim ? " 

" I can," I said ; and the words recalled our river 
at home, and the green bank off which I used to 

plunge. 

'* I learned in Lambeth Baths," said Esau. 

" Then if I were you I'd go and have a dip ; 
freshen you both up for the day. Tliere's a place 
under the trees about a hundred yards from the 
wharf. I've had a swim there this morniiifr." 



OUR MOENING BATH. 203 

" Already ? " I said. 

^'Yes, and done some business beside. But look 
li^re; keep to the shallows there, and don't venture 
into the stream^ for the current is exceedingly 
swift." 

A swim iu the bnglit morning sunshine sounded 
so delightful that I made for the door at once. 

''Remember about the current, my lads/' said 
Gunson; "and you, Dean, if you keep your eyes 
open you'll see plenty of salmon." 

" That's his w^ay of making fun of me," said Esau, 
as soon as we were outside. " Somehow he don't 



like me." 

"And you don't like hioi, Etau ?" 

" That's about true, Mr. Gordon," cried Esau. 
" But oh my 1— only look . " 

I needed no telling, for as we stood on the banks 
of that swift river, with the forest rising behiud us, 
and the sun glorifying everything around, ail thoughts 
of the last night's low spirits, and the trouble we 
had gone through, Avere forgotten, and I felt ready to 

shout for joy. 

The axe of the Avoodman had been at Avoik, but so 

little that it was hardly noticeable, and, look wdiich 

way we would, all was lovely, glorious, more beautiful 

than words can p tint. 

"Here, T want to shout. I want to li(^ down and 

roll. Here, lay hold of my ankles and hold me/' 
cried Esau. 

" Why ? What are you going to do ? " 

" I feel as if I must stand on my head, or I shall 
go mad. I do indeed." 
" Don't be so stupid." 



204 TO THE WEST. 

''But it ain't stupid. It's all so — so — Oh ! I can't 
tell you how beautiful it is." 

" Never mind now. We are here, and can go on 
liking it." 

" Yes, I know ; but I say, lookye here. What a 
tree to climb, with all its branches standing out like 
steps, and — Why, it must be a hundred feet high." 

"It's more than two," I said as I gazed up at the 
grand green spire of a Douglas pine, tapering gradually 
up, as if it intended to pierce the bright blue sky. 

'* Can't be so hi:rh as that,'' said Esau. "But I 
don't know," he cried. " Look at this stump; why, 
it must be twenty or thirty feet round. And look 
at 'em, hundreds and thousands of 'em, all standing 
as close together as they can. Oh, look ! look ! look ! 
Can't help it, I must sliout. [ doti't care about the 
trouble or the work, or the long voyage. I'd go 
through it all again to come to such a place as this. 
Oh, I do wish inothei* was here to see." 

I did not give vent to my feelings in the same way, 
but I felt as niuch ; and all the time, as my heart 
seemed to swell with joy, there were tears rising to 
my eyes, and dimming the glorious view of river, 
mountain, and forest, while I kept on saying to 
myself, " Thank God for making such a lovely 

world." 

The first excitement over, and the feeling of 
wonder that we had not seen all this last ni<d)t 
passed away, we went on along the clearing to the 
bank of the river, overlooking the shallows wheie we 
were to have our bathe. 

The sun was shining down through the opening 
formed by the stream, and its waters were spaikling 



OUR MORNING BATH. 205 

and flashing in the light, as we reached the spot 
Gunson evidently meant, and just then I caught hold 
of Esau's arm, and stood poiuUng away toward the 
middle. 

"I see 'em/' cried Esau, "just over those shallows. 
Just like shoals of roach in the Lea or the New 



River. They must be gudgeon." 

" Gudgeon ! — nonsense ! You forget how big 
everything is here. They're salmon." 

*•■ Go along with you," he ciied. "Think I don't 
know better than that ? Well, I am " 

This last was on seeing a bar of silver about three 
feet long shoot out of the water, describe a curve, 
and fall with a tremendous splash not half a stone's 
throw from where we stood. 

'' Why, it is ! " cried Esau, excitedly. " That was 
a salmon, and I can see 'em now — they are big 
hundreds of 'em, and oh ! not a bit o' fishing-tackle 

of any sort^ not so mneh as a line " 

" Are you coming to bathe ? " I cried, laughing. 

"Who's to bathe when there's everything to look 
at like this ? Here, don't let's go any further; let's 
write to mother and the others to come over here." 

" There, I shan't wait for you, Esau," I cried, slip- 
ping off ray clothes ; while he began more slowly, 
gazing about him all the while. 

"Can't help it," he said.' "J never thought there 
could be such places as this. I say, ain't it too 
beautiful a'most ? ** 

Splash ! 

That was my answer as I plunged in, only to shout 
as I rose to the top again, for the water was so cold 
it sent quite a thrill through me, and the next minute 



206 TO THE WEST. 

I was swimming about in the full enjoyment of the 
dip, after having to be content for months with a 
misei^able allowance of water for washing puiposes. 

" Here I come : look out ! '* cried Esau ; and the 
next moment he too sprang in sending the water up 
sparkling in the morning sunshine. '' Oh ! " he cried ; 

"oh! ice! Isn't it cold?" 

"You'll soon feel warm," I shouted ; and a minute 
later he was up close beside me, swimming easily, 
and every now and then dipping his head under 
water like a duck. 

"I shan't go away from here," panted Esau. "It's 
too lovely to leave. I shall build a cottage down by 
the river side and live there, and then we can fish 
for salmon. What mure does a fellow want ? " 

'* Let's wait a bit, and see what tlie rest of the 
country is like. We may find a better place/* 

"Couldn't," cried Esau. '' I say, one don't feel the 
water so cold now. I don't want a place to be any 
better than this. It's just right." 

"Well, let's swim back now, and dress. I want 
my breakfast, and I dare say Gunson's ready " 

" Bother old Gunson ! " puffed Esau. " He's a 
regular nuisance. Is he g< ing to day ?" 

"I can't talk in tlio water." 



"What?" 

" Come on bnck now 



i> 



I had turned, and begun swimming steadily back, 
for the water hardly flowed here close to the shore ; 
and as I s^^am I kept on glancing up at the huo-e 
trees, which were four or five times the size of any 
I had ever seen before. 

" Don't you want your breakfast, Esau ? " I said, 



OUR MORNING BATH. 207 

after a few minutes' swim, but he did not answer. 
" Esau, come along." Eut still there was no answer ; 
and I turned round and looked back, to sec that he 
was still swimming in the other direction, and a long 
way from me. 

'^Esau/' I roared, " come back !" and I had the 
satisfaction of seeing; him turn, and becrin to swim in 
my direction. 

Striking out strongly, I was making for the place 
where I had left my clothes, when I suddenly heard 
him hail me. 

"Hallo!" I shouted. 

"Can't seem to get along liero." 

I stopped to watch him, and then a cold shudder 
ran throucjh me, for I could see that thouc^h he was 
swimming with his face toward me, he was slowly 
gliding away by the trees on the opposite bank. 

''He has got into the current," I thought; and I 
was going to shout a warning, but I had tlie good 
sense not to do so, for I felt that it would alarm him, 
and beginning to swim back, I ciied 

" Turn in lor the shore." 

" Eh ? " 

"Make for t1ic shore." 

" Can't, lail," cime back ; and the cold chill I had 
before felt thiilled me; while feeling as if I dared 

not spoak^ T swam towards him, in agony all the 

time, for fear I should get into the current with 
which he was strnc^G^linc:^. 

" Don't get much nearer," he shouted, coolly 
enough, for he had not yet realized his danger; and 
making an effort to speak as calmly, I raised my 
voice and shouted 



208 TO THE WEST. 

"Of course you dout. Turn round and swim the 
other way, sloping for the bank/' 

He did not answer, but he had evidently heard 
uiy words, for lie rose in the water, turned with a bit 
of a splash, and began to swim in the other direction ; 
while I followed, keeping close in where there was 
hardly any current. 

Then I stopped and uttered a hoarse cry, for I saw 
him suddenly shoot right out toward the centre 
of the stream, and begin going down at a rate that 
was teirible. For I could see that any attempt to 
fight against the stream would be folly j all he could 
do was to keep himself afloat, and trust to being 
swept into some other cross current which might 
take him shoreward. 

I felt willing enough to go to his help, but I could 
do nothing, and the feeling of impotence began to 
rob me of such little power as I possessed. 

And novv T saw that he, realized hi=! poril^ for he 

raised one arm above the water and waved it to me, 
lowering it again directly, and swimming with the 
side stroke, so that it seemed to me that he was 
drowning, for his head w^s nearly hidden by the 
water. 

"Now, my lads, breakfast," came from the bank, 
and I saw Gunson appear from among the pines. 
" Out with you. Where is Dean ? " 

I rose in the water, and pointed to where the poor 
fellow was rapidly passing out of eye shot, being now 
quite three hundred yards away, and rapidly increabing 
the distance. 

" What madness ! He'll be 

I didn't hear him finish the sentence, but I know 



OUR MORNING BATH. 209 

what he meant to say ; and in despair I swam to the 
shallows, waded out, and stood shading my eyes and 
watching Esau, who was still afloat, but rapidly being 
carried away. 

As I reached the bank, I just caught a glimpse of 
Gunson running along the clearing beyond the little 
settlement, and my feeling of despair increased, for I 
knew that at the end of the opening the forest went 
down to the water's edge, and that any one would 
have to struggle through the tangle of branches and 
fallen trees. 

" No/' I thought ; " he will get a boat." 

But I could not remember that there was a boat 

about the place. I had not seen one. As I thought 

all this in a wild, excitable way, I snatched up some 

of my clothes, slipped them on parCIy as I ran ; and 

even then, incongruous as it may sound, I could not 
help thinking how the wet hindered me. Then 

running on, I came upon Gunson, with his face cut 
and bleeding, struggling back from among the 
trees. 

" Boat ! boat ! " he shouted, hoarsely. '* Is there 
no boat ? " 

His words brought out the settler's wife, and a 
couple of men from one of the shanties. 

" No boat here," said one of the men. " Anything 

th ft m atter ? " 

Gunson tried to speak, but no words came, and 
in a despairing way he pointed down the river in 
the direction poor Esau had been swept. 

The man looked as he pointed, but nothing was 
visible, and just then the woman cried out 



" Why, where's your mate ? " 



o 



}) 



210 TO THE WEST. 

Neither could T say more tlian one word — '■ Batli- 
iog," and I too pointed doAvn the river. 

" Bathing, and swep' away," said one of the mvn. 
" Ah, she runs stronger nor a man can swim. None 
on us here don't batlie." 

''No/' said the other man quietly; and they stood 
looking at us heavily. 

" But is there no boat to be had ? " cried Gunson, 
hoarsely. " The Indians. A canoe ! " 

" Went down the river last nio-ht, after brincrinor 
the fish," said the woman wildly, and then — " Oh, 
the poor boy the poor boy ! " and she covered her 
face with her apron and began to sob. 

'* And we stand here like this/' groaned Gunson, 
" shut in here by these interminable trees. Is there 
no way through no path ? 

" No/' said the man who had spoken first, " no 
path. Only the river. We came by the water and 
landed here." 

" Gordon/' said my companion bitterly, " I'd have 
plunged in and tried to save him, but I know it was 
impossible. Poor lad ! poor lad ! I'd have given five 
years of my life to have saved him." 

"But will he not sA\im ashore somewhere loAver 
down ? " I ciied, unwilling to give up all hope. 
" Where the stream isn't so strong. Let's try and 
find a way through the trees.'' 

" Yes ; let's try a way along by the river if we 
can/' he said, wearily. " Poor lad ! I meant differ- 
ently to this." 

He led the way back to the end of the clearing, 

and then hesitated. 

" If we could contrive something in the shape of 



OUR MORXING BATH. 211 

a raft, wc might float down the river. Hark ! What's 

that ? " 

For there was a faint hail from somewhere down 
the river — in the part hidden from us by the trees. 

"Ahoy!" came quite distinctly this time. 

'* He has swum to one of the overhanging branches, 
and is holding on," I cried, excitedly. " Can't we 
make a raft so as to Q-et to him ? " 

Gunson turned, and was in the act of running 
toward our stopping-place, witli some idea, as he 

afterwaids tokl mc, of tearing down two or three 
doors, when more plainly still came the hail. 



)) 



" Ahoy ! Gordon. Ahoy ! 

" Why, he is swimming back," I cried. 

" Ah !" shouted Gunson, rnnnino- back, " The 
Indians ! It was about their time." 

Almost as he spoke, the end of a canoe propelled 
by four Indians came into sight slowly from behind 
the trees, and as it drew a little further into view, 
I could see Esau's head just above the side right 
back in the stern, and this was followed by one bare 
a m, which was waved in the air, and lie shouted 

" Gordon. Ahoy ! Got my clothes ? 

Gunson gave his foot an angry stamp, and walked 
back to the settler's house. 



)) 



4^M ^^-nJ2 



'^; 



^ 



CHAPTER XXII. 




WE START UP THE RIVER. 

3AU!" I cried, half h^ysterically, as the 
canoe was paddled up to the wharf; 
"you frightened us horribly/' 

"You?" he said, coolly, " frightened 
you ? Why, you should have been me." 

I said notl ing then, but made signs to the Ijidians, 
who, partly from my motions, and partly from their 
understanding a few words of English, paddled the 
boat up to where we had undressed ; and ns Esa^i 
leaped ashore, and hurried on his clothes, he went on 
talking readily enough, though I could hardly say a 

word. 

" Yes, I did begin to get a bit scared when I 

found T couldn't do anything to paddle ashore/' said 

Esau quietly. " It does run fast. And as soon as I 
was in the full stream, away I went. Didn't have 
no trouble about swimming, only a stroke now and 
then to keep one's head right ; river did all the rest. 
I could have gone on for an hour, I dare ray, if I 
could have kept from being frightened, but don't 
tell old Gunson I was scared, and no mistake." 



JJ 



WE START UP THE RIVER. 213 

" Till you saw the Indians with the canoe/' I said 
huskily, 

" What ? " cried Esau, staring at me in astonish- 
ment. ''Why that made me ever so much more 
frightened. How did I know but what they wanted 
to pull all the hair off my head ? Why, I tried to 
swim away from them, and dived down when they 
were getting close, so as to let them paddle right by. 
I stopped under too as long as I could, and when I 
came up, if they hadn't managed their boat just so 
as one of 'em could duck his hand down and catch 
hold of my curly hair. 

" Esau ! " 

" I shouted and struggled, but he held tight, and 
another came to help him, and they dragged me 
over the side into the boat, where I durstn't kick for 
fear of poking my feet through the bottom, for it's only 
skin stretched over a frame, just as yoii naight make 
a boat as one would au umbrella, only I don't think 
they could shut it up. 

" But they didn't attempt to hurt you." 

" No ; they were civil enough their way, and kept 
on jabbeiing at me, and saying something about 
Si wash, si wash. I'd had si \^ash enough, but they 
never offered to lend me a towel, and I had to get 
dry in the sun." 

"Esaii," I said, as he wns finishing dressings "you 

ought to be thankful that ycu have had such an 
escape." 

"Ought I? Well, I suppose I ought, lad; and I 
am thankful, though I take it so easy, for my poor 
mother would have broke her heart if I'd been 
drowned. She thinks a deal of me." 



}* 



214 TO THE WEST. 

" Of course," I said. 

" I say, what did old Gunson say ? " 

" Don't ask me ; dou t talk about it," I said, for I 
felt half choking, I was so overset by the whcle 
scene. 

"Why, Mayne Gordon," said Esau softly, as lie 
laid his hand on my shoulder, "don't go on like 
that. I ain't nothing to you, and 

" Esau," I cried angrily, '^ will you hold your 
tongue ? Hush ! don't say another word. Here's 
Mr. Gunson." 

''Yes," said Esau, in rather an ill used tone, '* it 
always is 'Here's Sir. Gunson '" 

" Breakfast's waiting, my lads," he said. " Make 
haste; I don't want to keep the Indians long." 

" Keep the Indians ? " I said, " Ah, you mean we 
ought to pay them something for saving him." 

" Yes, for one thing ; but that is not all. They 
will easily be satisfied." 

"I sha'n't give them anything," said Esau sourly. 
" One of 'em tried to pull the hair off my head." 

"Nonsense! It must have been to get you into 
the boat. Here we are." 

He signed to us to go into our room in the shanty, 
and I felt puzzled at his quiet calm way of speaking 
now, just as if there had been nothing the matter 

that morning. But it was not so with Esmi. The 

shock and its accompanying fright had had a peculiar 
effect upon his temper. 

As we entered the room there was the bright fire 
with the boiling water ; and the landlady had been 
busy for us, and broiled some bacon, the smell 
of which was very welcome at that time in the 



;> 



WE START UP THE RIVER. 215 

morning; but as Esau was about to take his place 
he looked sharply round. 

** Where's my box ?" he said. And as he spoke I 
saw that mine and the others "\rere gone. 

'' In the canoe," said Gunson, quietly. 

'* What's it in the canoe for^" cried Esau. " Those 
Indian chaps will run away with it," 

" If they do/' said Gunson, who was bu.sy making 
the tea, "they'll take your companion's and mine 
too." 

" What's the good o that to me ? " cried Esau 

angrily. " That won't bring mine back. Here, I 
want my box," 

"Sit down, and don't bo stupid, my lad. You've 
given us quite enough trouble this morning. 

"But I want my box," ciied Esau. "There's lots 
o' things in that I wouldn't lose on no account." 

He moved toward the door, but Gunson set down 
the kettle and stepped before him. 

"Go and sit down," he said sternly. 

" But I want " 

"Sit down !" roared Gunson. '''^Your companion 
here does not make an idiot of himself because his 
box is in the canoe. Do you think I want to run 
away with it ? '* 

" No ; but those Indians 

"Are more honest than you are, my lad, or as 
honest." 

'^ But who told them to take the boxes ? " 

" I did. For if you go and nearly drown yourself 
there is no opportunity for consulting you about 
matters. You want to go up the river, do you 
not ? " 



» 



216 TO THE WEST. 

" Well, I don t know/' cried Esau, whoso anger 
was now comical. 

"Then we know for you. As it happens, my first 
halting place is at a settlement twelve miles up the 
river. I wanted my chests taken up there, and I 
ventured to think it would be doing you lads a good 
turn to take you and your boxes as well. So I 
engaged these Indians with their canoe. They will 
paddle us up there and land us." 

*' Oh," said Esau discontentedly. And I burst out 
laughing. 

*' I'm sorry you do not like it, Mr. Dean ; but if 
yon wish it, I will apologize for the liberties my 
Indians have taken in saving your life as they came, 
as well as in taking your chest " 



" Well, I— that is— if I'd 



jj 



*' Will you hold your mug this way for some tea, 
Mr. Dean ? " said Gunson, with mock politeness. 

"Oh !" exclaimed Esau. 

" There, help yourself to sugar and milk. Gordon, 
my lad, help the bacon, and give our much-injured 
friend the best piece." 

'^Look here/' cried Esau fiercely, "you may hit 
nie, or you may kick me, but I can't stand being 
made fun of. Say another word like that, and I 
won't eat a bit." 

" I have said my say/' cried Gunson, with a look 
at me. And after gulping down his tin mug of tea, 
Esau seemed to get better, and the meal was hastily 
finished in peace. 

" Now, Gordon/' said Gvinson, " our landlady has 
been very civil to us, what shall we give her beside 
the pay for what we have had ? " 



WE START UP THE RIVER. 217 

" If I did what I liked, I should give her a little 
paper of tea." 

"Well done, Solomon of wisdom," said Gunson, 
taking something from his pocket; "here it is, done 
up all ready. Now then, the sooner we start the 
better." 

Our arrangements with the settler s wife were soon 
concluded, and it was still early morning when we 
took our places in the big skin canoe with all our 
personal belongings under our eyes now ; and the 
Indians having been well fed, pushed off rather 
sluggishly. But they kept time with their paddles, 
and soon set up a low, sad, crooning kind of chorus 
as they carefully avoided the powerful stream by 
keeping well inshore, where I gazed up in wonder 
at the magnificent trees which appeared in masses 
and clumps at every turn. 

It was a wonderful experience that first ride on 
the fierce river, whose snow-charged waters gave 
quite a sting to the fingers whenever they weie 
immersed. And there was always something fresh 
to see. Now it was a vast shoal of salmon gliding 
up over the shallows, or collecting about the edges of 
one of the many falls we passed, where some stream 
or another came down from the high grounds to 
swell the already full bed of the river. Then some 
birr) flew up within tempting distance for one who 

handled a gun, and then there would be a little bit 
of excitement as we neared some fierce part of the 
river where the bed was dotted with rocks, a touch 
upon any of which must mean a hole through the 
bottom of our canoe, and her freight sent whirling 

helplessly down the stream. 



218 TO THE WEST. 

It was at one of these rapids that Esau, who had 
been very quiet and rather ashamed of himself, 
suddenly half rose in his place, exclaiming 
"Don't let them go there; it isn't safe." 
" They know best how to manage the canoe," said 
Gunson quietly. 

"But you won't let them go up that bit of water? 
It's like a mill race." 

"Yes; only fiercer," said Gunson coolly. *' Feel 
startled, Gordon ? " 

"I do feel a bit nervous," I said. 

"And not ashamed to say so," he replied, laugh- 
ing. '' Well, you are a strange lad. Of course you 
are not frightened, Dean ? " 

"Why it's enough to scare any one," cried Esau. 
"We shall all have to swim for it directly, and nice 
chance we shall have. Get stunned with stones 
before we know where we are. Here, look ! what 
are they going to do ? " 

" Sit still, and you'll see," said Gunson ; and he 
joined me in looking eageily at the men, who ran the 
boat as far as they could go toward the shallow rapids 
by energetic use of theii paddles, and then, at a grunt 
from the one who seemed to take the lead, they 
dropped their paddles in the canoe, and, as if by one 
movement, swung themselves over into the rapids, 
and began to wade and drag the vessel against the 
surging stream. 

" Look here," said Gunson, with his lips close to 
my ear, for the noise of the rushing water was 
deafenijig, " if we do go over, make for that big 
piece of rock below there, and try to climb 
up." 



WE START UP THE RIVER. 219 

"Yes," I said rather breathlessly; "but tell Esau 



too. 



j> 



" Oh no ; there is no need," he said sarcastically. 
" Your companion is too clever to want help." 

Meanwhile we were being dragged slowly up and 
up against the fierce current, and in and out among 
rocks, any one of which would have overset the canoe ; 
and as I looked forward and tc right and left, where 
the sides of the river were formed by precipices 
which ran up so high that the trees growing here 
and there on the ledges looked quite small, I felt a 
kind of shrinking sensation at my own insignificance, 
and turned at last to see wliat effect all this had upon 
Esau. 

He was seated holdincf on to the bottom of the 
canoe with all his mit^ht, and staring^ at the threat- 
ening rocks with eyes and mouth wide open. 

" Afraid ? " I shouted in his ear. 

*' Not a bit," he replied ; "but be veady for a swim 
if some of those rocks up above don't tumble down 
and sink us." 

And all the time the Indians dragged hard at the 
canoe, and with so much success that they proceeded 
over some three hunch^ed yarjs of rapid, and then 
stopped where the water looked deep and glassy, and 
where it was evident that they could wade no further. 

Here, as they held the canoe fa?t to keep it from 
being swept back down the rapids, one of the fore- 
most swung himself in, took his paddle, and began 
io use it with all his might. Then another sprang 
in on the other side, and paddled hard to keep the 
canoe stationary, two still holding tightly. Then the 
third leaped in, and the one still holding uttered a 



220 TO THE VVKST. 

hoarse cry, which made the others ply their paddles 
with all their might, for it seemed as if the stream 
would be too stiong for them. Finally the fourth 
gave another cry, and his muscles stood out in the 
sunshine on his forehead and neck, as he gave the 
boat a tremendous thrust, swung himself in, and 
began to paddle rapidly. 

The thrust he gave the boat sent it on a couple of 
yards, and then ifc became stationary, with the water, 
which looked white and glassy, now rushing by us, and 
threatening to drive the canoe on to the rocks just 
behind, or else to capsize us, and sweep the party 
headlong down the long water slope up which we 
had been so toilsomely drawn. And I beUeve we 
should have been mastered, for what with three 
passengers and the chests, the canoe was heavily- 
laden ; but Gunson suddenly pressed himself close to 
the last Indian, reached out one strong arm, and 
grasped his paddle, swaying with him, and bringing 
the full force of his powerful muscles to bear. 

The hint was sufficient. I gave Esau a look, and 
crawled right forward to the first paddler, and did 
precisely the same, and Esau ncted likewise, so that 
there was the addition of our arms on the port side 
of the boat to balance Gunson's on the starboard. 

For the moment my Indian, the first, seemed ready 

to StaT't up, leap overboard_, nnd swim for his bfe, 

evidently thinking I was attacking him; but he saw 
what it meant directly, and as soon as we boys were 
in regular swing with them, the chief man gave a 
shout, and the paddles were plied with such effect 
that the canoe began to move from where it had been 
stationary, as if one end were fixed on a rock, which 



WE START UP THE RIVEK. 221 

allowed the bows to sway a little. Then we gained 
a foot or two, the feet became yards, and the Indians 
set up a triumphant chorus, as we glided on and on, 
more into smoother water, and at last right in, under 
the lowering precipice on our left, where we got along 
more rapidly, till the vessel was steered in behind a 
huge projecting mass of rock, where one paddle was 
sufficient to hold her in the eddy that was caused by 
the stone, and here all paused to rest. 

" Well done, Bri'sh muscles ! " said Esau, looking 
round, and smiling as he wiped the perspiration 
from his forehead. " 1 say, I thought it was all over 



once." 



it 



Yes," said Gunson, " they had all they could do 
to hold their own, and of course they would soon 
have given way," 

''Is there much more like this ? " I asked. 

"You know the river as well as I do, my lad," 

said Gnnson, " As far ns I can make out^ it is nearly 

all like this, and runs through canons and wild 
places, where at times the sides are so high that it 
is quite gloomy below." 

" Well, I like it," said Esau. " There's something 
in it. I've been on the river at home in the 
steamers, but there's nothing to see." 

" You'll see enough here," s iid Gunson, dryly. 
" What do you think of your journey up the river 
now ? Didn't I hear one of you speak about walking 
on the bank ? " 

I looked to right and left, and felt my forehead 
pucker up as I saw the difficulties we should have 
to contend with. 

" But will the banks be always like this ? " I said. 



222 TO THE WEST. 

" Of course not. I should say that we shall find 
everything, from piled-up masses of rock to pleasant 
patches of meadow, and no two miles alike." 

"But no steamers could ever come up here," said 
Esau. 

" Oh yes, out there in the broad channel in the 
middle, but they will need very powerful engines 
and careful pilots. Ah, they are getting ready for a 
fresh start. 



" But it will take us a long time to get up to 
where we are to stop for to night," I said. 

"Twelve miles at the outside," replied Gunson. 
"Yes, I am beoiimiag;' to be in doubt as to whether 
we shall get there to niglit " 

The leader of the Indians shouted, they plunged 
in their paddles, and the next minute we were agiiii 
struggling with a rapid bit of the river between 
two rocks; but they soon gut into smoi)th water 
again, and, evidently quite at home in the in- 
tiicacies of the navigation, tbey took a.lvantage of 
every sheltering clump of rocks, and cut across 
swift rapids to get into eddies here, there, and 
everywhere. Now we weie light in the middle 
of the stream, now cro^.^iug under the left bank, 
now making for the ii-,ht, but always advancing 
slowly, with the si les of the river growing grander 
idvi^iiy huui, and Gunson suii^ng at oui tjuhtubies, 

as we kept getting glimps3S of lavines down 
which tumbled silvery stieams, wdioso '^j)ray moist- 
ened the gigantic pines which shot up like 
spires. 

" Wouldn't have ketched me sitting on the stool 
in old Dempster's office all that mizzable time," cried 



WE START UP THE RIVER. 223 

Esau, '' if I'd known there were places like this to 
come and live at." 

'* It is a grau 1 valley/' said Gunson tliouglitfully, 
and looking at me as he spoke ; " but as it is, what 
is it? Only something beautiful to be admired. 
You couldn't live on -waterfalls and pine trees here. 
Suppose I kinded you two kids in that lovely gorge, 
where the water comes down like a veil of silver, 
and yes, look, there's a rainbow floating in thatnaist 
just above the big fall. Look at the ferns, and 
perfect shape of that great fir tree, ■v^ith i^s branches 
drooping right to the ground You could sleep 
under its spreading boughs, a ad find a soft bed of 
pine needles ; but I don't think it would be possible 
to climb up the sides of tlie gorge, and in a short 
time you would starve." 

" Oh would we ^ " cried Esau. " We'd soon build a 
hut, and we could catch the salmon." 

" Yes, you might catch some salmon in the season ; 
but there is nothing else you could eat. It is very 
beautiful too, and those pine tiees that stand there 
are as they stand worth nothing, but if you had 
them cut into square timbers, and lymg in one of 
the London docks, they "svoidd be worth from ten 
to forty pounds each." 

" But it is glorious to see all this," I said eagerly, 

" Yes ; glorious. In all my travels I have seen 
nothing more beautiful," said Gunson ; and he added 
laughing, "I never went up a river that was so 
rugged and so swift." 

It was just in such a nook as that which we had 
admired so much that the Indians ran the boat 
ash )re about midday, and after making her fast in a 



224 TO THE WEST. 

glassy little pool, they signed to us to get out, after 
which they all sat down among the ferns, and under 
the shelter of the spreading boughs of a pine, and 
brought out some food. We imitated their example, 
and made a hearty meal, washing it down with a tin 
of water from a little fountain which gushed from 

a moss-covered rock. 

By this time the Indians were lying down appar- 
ently asleep, and it set me thinking about what 
our position would be if we followed their example 
and they decamped with our boxes and stores. 
Suppose there was no way out of this n^>«k> for 
the sides looked as if it would be impossible to 
climb them, and it was evidently a rare thing for 
any boat to go up or down. 

However, these were only fancies, for after about 

an hour's rest the Indians suddenly jumped up and 
pointed to the boat. We got in, and the struggle 

with the river began ngain, to be kept up till tbft 

sun had descended behind the mountains, and it was 
beginning to look gloomy where the river ran. 
Places that would have been glorious to the eye 
in the bright sunshine now seemed weird and 
terrible, impressing even our hard, stern friend, so 
that he suddenly said 

"We had better land at the first suitable place, 
and make camp for the night. We can easily get a 
good fire." 

I was glad to hear him say this, for with the 
advancing evening the waters looked cold, and the 
echoing^ roar of torrent and fall had an awful sound 

that began to affect my spirits, and Esau's as well, for 

he suddenly said to me 



WE START UP THE RIVER. 225 

" I say, this part ain't half so beautiful as some of 
the others." 

Gunson set himself the task of explaining to the 
Indians that we wanted to land, a want that they 
grasped directly ; the leader nodding and pointing 
forward beyond a sudden bend of the river, where it 
made a sweep to our right round a towei'ing buttress 
of rock, which projected so far that it seemed to block 

up the channel, and turn the place into a lake. Tlieu 
bending once more to their paddles, they set up their 
monotonous chant, and in fihout on hour we wei-e 
round the great rocky buttress, and making for a 
meadow like patch surrounded by magnificent trees, 
and upon which dotted here and there were rough 
shanties. ^ 

*' Why this is the settlement ! " cried Gunson. 

" They have done as they promised after all. Now, 
my lads," he said, " what do 3^ou say ? — shall we try 
and get shelter at one of those places, or camp out 
for the first time, and you can try wdjat it's like ? " 

"Camp out," I said eagerly, for there was an at- 
traction about the idea. " What do you say, Esau ? " 

" Same as you do, sir, same as you." 

" Then we will camp out," sa]d Gunson ; and direct- 
ing the Indians to a nook away from the tents, they 
landed us there by a spring ot cold water, and then 
be^an to take out the chests. 

*' No, no. To-n^iorrow/' said Gunson. " Now 
then; first thing is a fire when we have chosen 
our tent." 

Just then Esau cried sharply- 

"I say, lookye there!" and burst into a fit of 
laughter. 



CHAPTER XXIII. 




ESAU IIAS A DKEAJI. 

LAUGHED too as [ saw the little yellow- 
face J fi^'ure of our Chinese companion 
of the boat, as he came up wdth his small 
bundle swinoiuo fi-om one finger. 
" Why how did you get up here ? " I said. 
" Indian chinook come along, walkee, \\alkee," he 
said ; and he pointed toward the west " Wantee 
fire make blead?" he said laconically; and then 
without losing a moment, he selected a shelteied 
spot, collected a quantity of pine needles and fir 
cones, produced a box of matches from somewhere, 
I think it was from up his sleove, started the fire, 
nursed it carefully, and as soon as it began to burn 
freely, ran here and there to collect dry wood, and 
after building this up round, dragged up bigger 
pieces, and then added these, making a famous fire 

in a very short time. 

Gunso^ laughed at the Chinaman's busy, ofiicious 
way, and with us to help him, brought our stores 
ashore, while the Indians prepared their own camp- 
ing place some little distance off. 



ESAU HAS A BREAM. 227 

" We may as well make ourselves comfortable for 
the night/' he said. " We shall work all the better 
to-morrow," 

" Where floul — make blead ? " said the Chinaman, 
looking up suddenly. 

" Don't want any. Got plenty of bread." 

'' Don'tee want any. Plenty blead ? " said the 
Chinaman. " Want pot makum boil tea ; want bacon 

-good fi' cook bacon." 

I was just unpacking the latter, which had been 
tucked in the kettle as a safe receptacle, and our 
new ac(]uaiutance's fingers v ere soon busy. He 
seized the kettle, went to the spring, rinsed it out, 
and bt ought it full to the fire. Then, before I could 
interfere, he had seized upon the bacon, taken out a 
long ugly knife, whetted it upon his boot, and began 
to cut off thin slices, Avhich he laid upon a thin 
square of iron, whose purpose I had not divined 
when Gunson unpacked it, bore them to the fire, 
and stood there ready for a clear place where one 
side was all aglow with embers. 

This done, tlie Chinaman placed one or two 
branches in more favourable positions for burning, 
and turned to Gunson au'ain. 



'' Kettle nealy leady. Want tea ? '* 

Gunson handed the tin to him, and the little 
yellow face lightened up as the cover ^as taken off, 

'' Melican tea ? No. Good tea. Ah ! " 

There was a long, eager sniff taken, and then a 
look was given round. 

*^One, two, thlee," said the little fellow, raising- 
finger after finger as he counted. '* One, two, thice," 
and he gave the tea a shake in the canister. 



228 TO THE WEST. 

" Not enough/' said Gunson ; " we like a good 
cup." 

"Hey? like good cup? Yes, plenty tea fo* good 
cup," and he took off the lid of the tin, and went 
and squatted down by the kettle, set the tea aside, 
ready for the boiling of the water, and so brought 

the bacon over the glowing embers slowly and care- 
fully, using the point of his knife in place of a fork. 

That tea proved to be excellent, and the bacon so 
delicious that we felt kindly disposed toward the 
Chinaman as we ate it ; and the more so that as soon 
as he saw us well started, in place of hanging about 
to be asked to join, he whetted his knife again, 
trotted off, and began to collect pine-needles, and 
cut down boughs of fir and spruce to pack together 
under the biggest tree for our bed. 

"Here, what are you doing ? " said Gunson. 

" Hey ? " cried the little fellow, trotting up. 
" Doinof ! Want mo' bacon — make Head. Blead 
gone high." 



>> 



" No, no. Sit down and have some tea. 

"By and by 1 " said the little fellow. " Cut much 
bed. Velly black dleckly ; no see." 

He went off, and we heard his knife hacking away 
again, and the rustling of the boughs, as he laid 
them neatly together in the big, pine natural tent 

that was to bp 0"r home that night. 

" Well," said Gunson, *' what do you think of real 
camping out ? " 

" Lovely," said Esau. " Oh ! I say ! " ^ 

" What's the matter ? " I said. 

" Gnat sort jof thing bit me on the side of the 
neck. Why, if there ain't another." 



ESAU HAS A DEEAM. 229 

He gave his face a sharp smack, and I was engaged 
too, and directly after Gunson was smacking his 
hands and legs, for a cloud of mosquitoes had found 
us out, and were increasing in number every moment. 

" This is intolerable/* cried Gunson. " Old friends. 
Haven't been bitten for years. We shall have to 
shift our quarters." 

Just then the Chinaman came up, and took in the 
situation at a glance. 

" Skittum," he said, sharply. " I mudjums.'* 

Running to the fire, he took hold of the end of a 
branch, drew it out, gave it a wave to put out the 



flame, and then held it smoking Ioav down by us on 
the side where the wind blew, with the result that a 
thick cloud of aromatic vapour was wafted by us, 
stinging our eyes a little, but making the vicious 
little insects turn their attention to the Indians, 
who started a burning branch as well, after which 

we could hear our enemies making their sharps 

threatening hutn all about us, but they rarely ven- 
tured to attack us through the smoke. 

"I say,'* cried Esau, " I hope there ain't many of 
these things about. My ! how the bites itch." 

As he spoke he moved out from under the pro- 
tecting smoke, but a sharp trumpeting hum sent 
him back directly with his head in the cloud. 

'' Wants a good sharp wind to blow 'em away," he 
muttered, as he began to rub at the bites viciously, 
while Gunson turned to the Chinaman and nodded 
toward the remains of our food. 

" Have some tea/' he said, " and something to eat ? " 

The little fellow nodded and smiled. 

" All a done ? " he said. " Tea velly good ? " and 



230 TO THE WEST. 

filling himself a tin mug from the supply in the 
kettle, he sat sip23ing it with his eyes closed. Then 
helping himself moderately to the remains of the 
bread and bacon, he rinsed oat the kettle and mugs, 
and set all aside under a big fern. 

" Airieady fo' bleakfass," he said, nodding "Keep 
a fi'. Quong mind. Leady fo' breakfass, mellow. 
You want ? " 

He looked at Gunson, who shook his head. 

" You want ? " he said ae^ain lookinof at Esau. 

" No, I don't want you/' replied Esau ; and the 
same question was addressed to me, of course with 
the same result. 

''Velly ti'e. Go sleep/' said the little fellow; and, 
selecting a tree about half way between us and the 
Indians' camp, I saw him, in tlie fast fading light, 
put his bundle down for a pillow, and curl up directly. 

" Good example/' said Guu^on. " Let's follow it, 
and be off in good time." 

We took his advice; bub this time I lay awake 
for long enough, listening to the murmur of the wind 
in the pines, and the low, deep bass roar of the liver. 
It had rapidly grown daik, and the fire flickered and 
flashed, and sent up curls of golden smoke ; while on 
one side there was a bough of a pine tree with 
every needle standing out clear and bright against 

thft intense blackness beyond And na T lay tliere 

listening to the heavy breathing of my two com- 
panions, I began to think how easy it would be for 
the little Chinaman to crawl silently up and rob us 
of our money and valuables; then that there was 
nothing to prevent the Indians from making their 
way round among the trees and killing us all. I had 



ESAU HAS A DIlf:A]M. 231 

read of Indian massacz-es, and a curious, hot sensa- 
tion of dread came over mo as I looked nervously 
lound, half expecting that my fancies mi^ht not be 

without cause, and that my walcefuhiess was due to a 
sense of comino- danu'cr. 

But the vaiious objects dimly seen by the firelight 
by degrees took tlieir propei loim ; and I saw that 
one which I had believed to be an Indian's head was 
only a tuft of some low giuwth ; that it was a fern 
and not a crouching" enemy^ just beyond the fire ; and 
the group to my left, a curious shavlo\\y group, con- 
sisted of young pines which the falling in and follow- 
ing blaze of the fire made quite plain. 

I told myself that it was foolish to feel so nervous, 
and that I was as safe out there in the forest as in 
some room at home ; but myself would not believe 
it, and kept on conjuring up dangers surrounding 
us till I felt iiritable with my two companions for 
sleeping so peaceably. 

The time went on, and I began wondering how 
j\Ir. John Dempster and those with him were getting 
on ; how long it would be before we should meet- 
if we e\er did meet; and then the end of my journey 
here became a great trouble to mc, as the question 
rose in a very portentous fasliion — Avhat would 
Uncle Dan, as they familiarly called him, say when 
I presented myself and said I had come ? 

Those hours perhaps tliey only seemed to be 
hours passed on very weaiily, and I turned and 
turned again, troubled as I was by a painful, burn- 
ing itching where I liad been bitten, and never once 
thinking of attributing my wakefulness to the real 
cause — the mosquitoes. 



232 TO THE WEST. 

At last, just when I was most miserable, nervous, 
and low-spirited, I suddenly saw a bright, flashing 
eye appear over the edge of the black ridge on the 
other side of the river, and begin peering at me 
through the pine boughs, so full of peace and beauty 
that I lay gazing at it, feeling more and more calm as 
I recalled the times when I had seen that same planet 
shining so brightly in the dear old home ; till at last 
my leaden eyelids closed, and [ slept profoundly, but 
only to start into wakefulness as some one trampled 
upon me heavily ; and as I leaped up, there close to 
me came the sounds of heavy blows, of the pine 
twigs being broken, and loud gaspings and pantings, 
mingled with heavy trampling^ a low hoarse cry, and 
a heavy fall. 

My heart stood still, and I was paralyzed for a few 
moments as I stood there in the dark ; then the 
instinct of self-preservation rose strong in me, and I 
took out and drew the great knife I had bought, 
and stood there ready to sell my life as dearly as I 
could, but unwilling to move lest I should indicate 
to the Indians where they might make their next 
attack. 

For I felt convinced that my imaginations had 
been realized ; that the Indians had stolen upon us, 
and murdered my two companions in their sleep, 
while I alone was left helpless in that wild place, and 
not daring to call for help. 

I suppose all this could not have taken a minute, 
long as in my agony it seemed to me before a voice 
close by me said 

Dean Gordon ! Wake up, lads. A light — a 



a 

}} 



light ! 



ESAU HAS A DREAM. 233 

A thrill of joy shot through me as I recognized 
Gunson's voice, although it was changed by excite- 
ment, and panting, just as it sounded to me after 
his encounter with the big settler; while before I 
could speak there came an answer to his appeal in 
the shrill tones of the Chinaman. 

'' Wantee lii^htee ? Yes." 

Then there was a blaze, and directly after I saw 
the little fellow bearing a great pine branch which 
he had dragged out of the fire. 

" What is it ? " I said, eagerly. 

" I don't know yet, boy. One of the Indians, I 
think. He struck me with a club, but fortunately it 
was only on the shoulder, and when I leaped up and 
struck out he went down. IVe s^ot him here. Don't 
come till we can see. He may sting." 

The light flashed in under the pine boughs then, 
and I could see Gunson's back as he knelt down, 
evidfiTitly holding his enemy there by the throat. 

" Why, hang it ! " he cried, drawing back sharply ; 
" it's Dean." 

" Dean ! " I cried, '' There must be some one else," 

"No; only him. He was striking about with 
yes, here it is," he continued^ picking up a stout 
piece of pine, one of the branches that had been in 
the fire till the small twigs were burned off, leaving 
it as a strong cudgel about two feet long. " He 
struck me with this, and he ^ras dashing it about 
amono- the branches. 



>> 



" He trampled on me too. I thought it was the 

Indians," I said. 

" Then it's a false alarm, and I'm afraid I've hurt 

the poor lad a good deal." 



234 TO THE WEST. 

But just then Esau sat up, and began rubbing the 
side of his head. 

"Where's my stick ?" he said. "Oh, you've got 
it. Have yoa driven 'em away ? " 

" Driven whom away ? " I said. 

"Injuns. I thought they would. They came at 
us, and I'd got that stick ready." 

"Injuu allee seepee," said the Chinaman, waving 
the piue branch to nudie it blaze. 

"No; they came and attacked us, and t fought 
'em till one of 'em knocked me down and held me 
on the ground," 

" Did you see them come ? " said Gun&on. 

'' Couldn't see 'em because it was so dark ; but I 
sprang up at them, and did the best I could." 

"Quong fuss wake. No Injun came all 'long. 
Quong been make fire all light fo' bleakfass." 

*' I tell you they came," cried Esau, angrily. 
"Look here at my cheek. It's cut, and bleeds. 
That was one of their knives." 

" That Avas my knuckles, my lad," said Gunson, 
"alter you had hit me with this cudgel." 

"WhatT' ciicd Esau. 

" Why, Esau, you were dreaming of Indians, and 
got up. You stamped on me. 

" Oh, come, if you Avon't believe it's of no use for 
me to talk," cried Esau, angrily. 

" Not a bit, so lie down again and go to sleep." 

"Yes; allee go seep," said the little Chinaman. 
"No Injun. Allee seep." 

" Take away that bianch, or you'll set this tree on 
fire," said Gunson. " Then it's a false alarm. Too 
much supper, I suppose." 



') 



ESAU HAS A DREAM. 235 

" I wasn't asleep," said Esau surlily. 

" Don't be stubborn," I cried, angrily. " Lie down." 

"Here, I ain't your dog, Mr. Gordon," said Esau, 
sourly. "I did all I could to fight for you both." 

" Yes, and jumped on your companion, and nearly 
broke my collar-bone." 

" Well, you've cut my cheek. Why, I shall have 
a black eye to-morrow." 

" I think you and I may as well shake hands about 
that," said Gunson. " There, good-night." 

As he lay down once more, and the fire flashed up 
consequent upon the little Chinaman throwing back 
the branch, Esau turned to me. 

" I say," he whispered, " was I really dreaming ? " 

"No doubt about it," 

" And walked in my sleep "? " 

" Yes, and fought in your sleep." 

"But it was so real. I could see their "rinniu^ 
teeth and rolling eyes, and every one had got a knife 
in one hand and a chopper in the other as they 
sprang at me." 

" That proves it, Esau," I said. *' How could you 
see their knives, and eyes, and teeth here in thi 
darkness ! Why, you can't see my face, not even 
3'our own hands, and yet the fire's brighter than it 
was before." 

*^ We]]^ thnf ia rum/' pried Esnu^ aS if to himself. 

" I saw 'em all as plain as could be, and they shouted 
their wai'-cry." 

''War! — gammon!" said Gunson, crossly. "Lie 
down, you two fellows, and go to sleep. He was 
dreaming, Gordon. Don't listen to his cock -and bull 



s 



nonsense." 



236 TO THE WEST. 



*' All right," I said. '' Good-niglit/' 
" Good night." 



'' Good-night, Esau." 

" Good-night. But dreaming ! Well, of all ! 
And they were as plain as could be, and had got 
feathers in their heads." 

"Yes, blue ones," I said, grumpily. "And look 
here, Esau, if you're going to dance a war-dance on 
my chest again, please to take off your boots." 

Esau chuckled, and the last thing I heard as I 
dropped asleep again was Esau muttering to him- 
self— 

" Asleep ! dreaming ! Well, of all ! " 




CIIAPTEK XXIV. 



I SKE FOOTPRINTS. 




SAU was quite right ; he had a terribly 
discoloured eye next morning, and it 



was the first thing I saw as we 



both 



sat up together in the soft light nnder 
the great pine, though I was half asleep still. But 
T had started up on hearing a shrill voice close to 

me say — 

''Bleakfass all ready/' 

" Come and bathe your face, Esau," I said ; and 
I led the way down to the water's edge to have a 
good wash, Gunson and Esau following my example, 
while when we got back to the fire it was to find that 
Quong had been making himself quite at home with 
our stores. For not only had he cut up and cooked 
some bacon, and made the tea, but he had found 
the flour-bag ; and there, upon a piece of sheet iron, 
was a large bread-cake freshly baked in the embers. 

Gunson laughed as he saw these preparations, but 
he said no more till we had partaken of a hearty 
meal. Then the four Indians came up to be paid, 
readily taking the dollars promised for the trip, and 



238 TO THE WKST. 

going back directly to the beat to land the boxes; 
but Gunson followed them, and they agreed to take 
them to the front of the biggest shanty about half 
a mile higher up, "waiting till we were ready. 

Quong was busy now making his breakfast, and 
Gunson turned to him. 

" Now, my Celestial friend," he said ; '' we're going 
to say good bye to you. Where are you bound 
for ? " 

*' Up libber, washee gole/' 

Gunson started. 

" What ? " he cried. 

"Up libber, wasliee gole." 

" Who told you that there was gold there ? " 

" Mclican man come down, show bit gold to Melican 
man. Big mm you chuckee chuckee down in boat/' 

Gunson looked disturbed, but he made no remark 
then, and at last I said to him — 

" I suppose we shall part company to day, Mr. 
Gunson ? " 

" What for ? Like your friend there, Esau tired 
of me ? '' 

"No," I said; " but we are going on tramp now 
up to Fort Elk." 

" Yes," said Esau, " that's what we're going to do ; 
but I don't quite see what we're to do with our 
boxes." 

"Leave them in charge, as I shall mine, at this 
settlement," said Gunson. " You'll have just to 
make a bundle in your blanket that you can carry 
easily. I shall do the same, and we may as well go 
on together, and protect one another as we did last 
night." 



I SEE FOOTPRINTS. 239 

He laughed and looked at Esau, who coloured up. 

" But we are going to Fort Elk," I said. 

" So am I/' said Gunson, coolly ; and I saw Esau 
give quite a stait, and look at me with a countenance 
full of dismay. 

Gunson saw it, and went on quietly 

" I did not mean to g-o on there, only up this 
river for some distance, and then off here or there 
toward the sources of one or other of the streams that 
run into it from the mountains ; but as I have run 
up against you two, wl.y we may as well go on 

together; it will give rae a chance to knock you both 
on the head, and then come back here, and get your 
chests, as well as the money you have in your belts 
under your clothes. 

I stared at him in a horrified way for a moment, 
and then, as I seemed to understand him^ I burst 
out lau<:chin£c. 

" Nonsense 1 " T snid 

"Oh no. That's the idea of me your companion* 
here has taken." 

" Never said nothing of tlie sort/' cried Esau, 
defiantly, and with his face scarlet. 

"Your face say3 you thought so, my lad." 
Well, a chap can tiunk what he likes, can't he ? 



?> 



if 



i} 



" No, boy," said Gunson, and his one eye seemed 
to blaze; " not of a man who lias done nothing but 
kindness for you ever since we met, even if it was 
in a rough way." 

How was I to know j^ou didn't mean artful, and 



€i 



it was all a trick ? " said Esau sourly. 
"Ah, how indeed ?" 
"Ev^erybody out here's been trying to get the 



240 TO THE WEST. 

better of us, and rob us. I couldn't tell you wasn't 
one of 'em." 

" Why, you ill-conditioned cub I " cried Gunson, 
angrily, "you make me feel as if I should like to 
thrash you till you could not stand." 

" Better not try it," grumbled Esau ; " you go 
your way, and let us go ours. We told you all about 

ourselves, and where we were going ; but you've done 
nothing but shut yourself up, and look as if you weie 
after no good." 

''Esau." I cried angrily; "it isn't fair. Mr. 
Gunson has always been the best of friends to us, 
and given us good advice." 

*' Ah, you always did take his part. I ain't going 



to make friends with strangers." 

" Mr. Gunson isn't a stranger. We've known him 
nearly six months. If you don't trust him, I do." 

I held out my hand to him as I spoke, and he 
brought his down in it heavily, giving me such a 
grip that I had hard work not to wince. 

" Thank you, my lad," he said, cheerily. 

" Then you're going to pitch me over ? " said Esau, 
surlily, 

" I'm going to kick you if you go on in this stupid, 
suspicious way. Don't take any notice of him, Mr. 
Gunson." 

*' I do -not intftnd to" 

"Oh, come, we can't go on like that," cried Esau 
quickly. " I don't want to be bad friends. I don't 
want to think you mean to rob us. I don't think 
I don't " 

Esau stopped short, shuffled about from one leg 
to the other, faltered again in his speech as he tried 



JJ 



}T 



I SEE FOOTPRINTS. 241 

to say something which would not come, and then 
in a sharp, short, decisive manner, cried 

" Beg your pardon, Mr. Gunson. Couldn't help 
thinking what I did." 

" That will do," said Gunson, holding out his 
hand, which was eagerly seized by Esau. "I know 
you couldn't help it, my lad. Mine is not a face to 
invite confidence. I'm an ill lookincf doo*. and I 

bite haid sometimes ; but I never bite my friends, 
and they are very few. Look here, Mayne Gordon, 
he continued, after glancing in Quong's direction to 
see if he was within hearing, " I am going up this 
river on such a mission as needs silence, and you 
have to keep silence too. First of all, what do you 
suppose I am ^ 

I shook my head. 

*' Emigrant," said Esau. 

'' No ; I am a prospector." 

" I know/' cried Esau, eagerly. " I've copied lots 

of 'em for prospectors — pxospectuses. You get up 
companies ? 

** No," said Gunson, smiling. " The companies 
follow sometimes. I am a prospector — -a searcher 
for mineral veins and deposits in the mountains. 
I was convinced that there was gold up here, and 
we have just had proof that I am right. That 
Chinaman you see is bound on a similar mission, 
for those fellows have a "wonderful scent for gold. 
And you see that those big roughs that he calls 
Melican men, but who were undoubtedly English, 
have been up here, and found gold. That is a 
surprise and an encouragement, and a damping, all 
in one, for it may mean a regular rush of people up 

Q 



'J 



242 TO THE WEST. 

the river. Now do you see why I have kept my 
counsel so long?" 

"Yes" I cried. 

" Of course/' said Esau ; " but why didn't you say 
so before ? You might have trusted us." 

*' Why didn't you become friendly before, my lad ? 
you might have trusted me." 

Esau looked at him comically, and gave one ear 
a rub. 

" Now then," said Gunson, '' shall we travel on 
together in company ? " 

"Of course," I cried. 

" Then the sooner the better. Your way will suit 
me as well as any, so let's make up our packs, leave 
the boxes in some one's charge here, and then the 
word is forward." 

Two hours later, under Gunson's dii*ections, wo 
had made a pack each, consisting principally of 

provisions, and Gnnsoii in ^(^ditinn hnd bj^OUtdit out 

of his case a rifle and ammunition. 

" There, Dean," he said, '' you may as well shoulder 
that, and you may as well carry this, Gordon," he 
continued, taking a su^all revolver with holster, strap, 
and cartridge-box. "You aie not to use it except 
in a case of tlie mo^t extreme uigency. Stiap it on, 
my lad. It looks formidable, and the possession of 
such a weapon will often \eop o^ dajioor." 

" What QuoDg cally ^ " said that gentleman when 
we were ready. 

*' Nothing," said Gunson, shortly ; " you don't go 



our wav." 

4/ 



" Yes, go allee same way 'long libber. No other 
way. Quong cally pack." 



I SEE FOOTPRINTS. 243 

" Humph ! " ejaculated Gurison ; *' if we don't 
employ him, he'll follow us, so one may as well make 
him useful. Wc can easily pay him ; it will not 
mean much. Heie, make youiself up a pack," 

Quong smiled with pleasure, and taking the blanket 
Gunson threw him out of Ins chest, he had it soon 
full of stores and necessaries, a bag of tiour being 
added to his load. 

'*Want um fizzluni ?" said Quong, suddenly. 

" Want what ? '' I said. 

^'Fizziuui. Balcum pjn^duni make blead.'' 

''Ah, I had forgotten," s ud Gfunson ; and he took 
a small tin fioui his box. 

An hour later the Indians weie paddling slowly 

back along the rivti, and aftti a tucndly good-bye 

from the settler who had taken cl ai^c of our boxeb, 

we sliouldeied oiu packs, and bei^an to trudge up 
the river side, finding it ca^y going, foi we were in 
(nnt(i nil opt n part hero, with a grassy margin for 

a short distance at the fuot of the mountains on 
one side. But highei up the rocks began to close 
in the prospect, theie was the famt roai ot tumbling- 
water, and dense black pine foitstt^ clothed the sides 
of the valley as far as we could see. 

Before we had gone very far along the forest track, 
the perspiration was oozing out fiSt on my forehead; 
and lightly as I was loaded, I began to think regret- 
fully of the boat, and of how much easier it was to sit 
or kneel there, and watch the Indians paddle, while 
over and over auain I had come to the conclusion 
that it was a very fortunate thing that we were not 
alone, but backed up by such a tower of strength as 
Gnnson, whose counsels were called in question every 



244 TO THK WEST. 

few minutes to decide which way we were to go 
next. 

The direction Avas ui. doubted, for, so long as \\e 
kept to the valley in which the river ran, we could 
not be wrong, but the task was to keep along it by 
a way that was passable to people carrying loads. 

For a mile or so beyond the tiny settlement we 
had left behind, we found, as we had been told, some 
traces of a track ; but it was wantincr more often 

than present, and -several times over we thought we 
had come to the end of it, only for it to begin again 
some fifty yards further on. 

At last though we had passed the final vestige of 
a trail, and there was the valley before us with the 
mountains rising up steeply on either side, and our 
way to make along the steep slope crowded with 
trees or covered with the cUhris of great masses of 
rock which had broken from their hold hundreds 

upon hundreds of y irds nhove us to come thundering 

down scattering smaller fr.igmcnts, and forming a 
chaos of moss covered pieces, over and in and out 
among which we li.id to make our way. 

" liather rough," Guuhoii said, "but keep up your 
spirits : it will soon be nuicli better, or much worse." 

"It's always like that — worse," Esau grumbled to 
me at last, as our companion went forward, while the 
patient little Chinaman plodded on with his load as 
steadily as 'd he had been a machine. 

''Never mind, Esau," I said. 

*' I don't," he replied, sturdily; and he drew him 
self up, and tramped on with the rifle over his 
shoulder, evidently very proud of being trusted with 
it ; but he had an unpleasant way of turning sharply 



I SEE FOOTPRINTS. 245 

round every now and then to look at something, 
with the result that, after being struck smartly by 
the barrel of the piece, I had to jump out of his 
way. 

"Beg your pardon,'* he would say, and a few 
minutes after forget all about it, and turn the barrel 
upon me again. 

" I say, Esau," I cried, at last, " do be careful with 
that gun.'* 

" hain't a gun— it's a rifle." 

" Call it what you like, but don't shoot me," 

"Ain't going to/' he said, drily. " What's the 
good ? We ain't cannibals. But I say, I wish some- 
thing nice would come along. I know I could hit 
it. What would you like — a deer? Deer's very 
good to eat, isn't it? 

" I suppose so. 



rt 



n 



" Wonder which is the best place to aim at. His 

head, T suppose T sliould like to bring one down/' 

'*I don't think you'll have a chance, Esau. Besides, 
we couldn't carry it. We've got as much as we can 
manage now." 

"Ah, but there's another way of carrying meat," 
said Esau, with a curious cock of the eye. " I mean 
after it's roasted." 

" But we are not hungry yet." 

" Not hungry ! " cried Esau, *' Not hungry ! Why^ 
what a fellow you are 1 " and we trudged on in 
silence. 

After a time Gunson turned round and let us over- 
take him, laiighing the while at our tired and Avcar}^ 
looks. 

" Loads feel heavy, eh ? " he said. " You are not 



246 TO THE WEST. 

used to them yet. I've been talking to Mr. Quong, 
and he tells me that he is o^oinGc to hunt aboiit till 
he finds gold. Then I bup]»use he'll leave us to 
ourselves." 

We were both too hot and tired to trouble about 
the Chinaman, and were very glad when, about mid- 
day, Gunson called a halt under the shade of a great 
tree, that crrew beside a little brawlino^ stream which 
came hurrying down from above. 

Here we dropped our burders with a sigh of relief, 
and partook of some cold ba^on and bread, which 
seemed about the most delicious thincf I had ever 
tasted. 

Quong was given a lunch for himself, and he took 
it aside, ate it quickly, and then, in place of lying 
down as we did for a good two hours' rest during 

the heat of the day, he produced a little tin plate 
and picked his way down to the stream's edge, and 
then amongst the rocks, till he came upon a patch of 
gravelly sand over which a few inches of water 
danced merrily. 

Gunson watched him curiously; I did the same, 
Esau having dropped off to slaep as soon as he had 
eaten his midday meal. 

For it was interesting to see the busy little fellow. 
His first step was to roll up his sleeves to the elbow, 

stor»p down^ nnd «!COop np rm iTinch gravel find snnd 

as the tin plate would hold. This he shook about 
a little under water, brought it all up again, and 
picked out the stones. Then he held it down low 
again and worked it about, and picked out a second 
batch of much smaller stones. Again he placed the 
tin beneath the water, where it ran pretty swiftly, and 



I SEE FOOTPRINTS. 247 

kept up a regular circular motion, which caused the 
fine dirt and sand to be washed out and pass over 
the side, till only a small patch of sand of a coarse 
grain remained on the tin ; and at last, as if satisfied 
with his task, he stepped out on to the dry bank, 
and held the plate sidewise for the water to drain 
off. This took some few minutes, the hot sun 
drying the sand as he turned it about with one 
finger. 

Every movement was performed with the most 
patient deliberation, and in utter unconsciousness 
of the fact that we were watching him, both eager 
to learn the result of his search. 

It was a long time before we knew, for Quong 
turned tlie saud about over and over again, and then 
in=:pected it with a peculiaily magpieish air, before 

he shook his head, tossed the sand away, and selected 
another spot in the stream, where he went through 
the same process, wliile we lay and watched him till 
the final examination. This time, just as I fully 
expected to see him toss out the sand, he rose up 
with a triumphant look on his yellow face, and 
caught sight of us. His jaw dropped, and he 
appeared frightened, but the dread seemed to pass 
away, and he came towards us with his tin. 

"Me washee gole," ho said, excitedly. "Fine 
■oIp." 

'* Where ? " said Gunson, abruptly. '' Let*s look." 
He stretched out his hand for the tin, which was 

placed in it hesitatingly, Quong's face betokening 

that he did not expect to see it again. 

Gunson gave the half-dry sand a shake which 

spiead part of it over the bottom of the tin, then 



248 TO THE WEST. 

another and another, while I looked on eagerly, and 
at last he uttered a contemptnous "pish !" 
" I thought you said you had found gold/' 



Yes. Quong fine gole. Washce gole." 



"Washee gole ! Where is it theni 

The Chinaman took back the tin, shook it, peered 
in among the grains of sand ; shook it again and 
again ; then shook his head instead, and looked up 
at Gunson. 

*' Yes ; washee gole," he said, in a tone of voice 
which seemed to mean, "but it's gone away now." 

" Fancy, my lad, fancy. There, lie down and rest. 
I'll have a try when we come to a likely place. We 
must work in the river." 

*' No ; too muchee water," said Quong. 

"Yes; here. We must go up higher." 

" Quong washee gole," said the little fellow again. 

" Well then, where is it ? " 

Quong shook his hea<l despondently once vaore. 

" Washee gole," he whined, and again his tone of 
voice seemed to say to me, " and there was some in 
that plate, but Avhere it's gone to now I haven't the 
least idea." 

"Come along and have a rest." 

" Ah ! ah ! ah . " cried Q\iong, excitedly, after 
giving the pinch of sand a final shake. " Gole 

gole : " 

He held out the tin once more to Gunson, point- 
ing now with one thin yellow finger, and looking 
triumphantly at both in turn. 

" Where ? " said Gunson, laughing, as he followed 
the direction of the pointing finger, and took the 
plate in his hand to hold it in different directions in 



I SEE FOOTPRINTS. 249 

the sun. *' Ah, I see it. Here, Gordon, come and 
have a look. He has found the contents of Aladdin's 
cave all at once.'' 

" I don't see any gold," I said. 

*' Not see it ? Oh, tliere it is plain enougli. My 
word, what patience these Chinese have I There it 
is, lad, just in the very centre of the plate. See it ? '* 

" No." 

" Now try," he cried, as he tilted the plate side- 
wise, and this time I saw a tiny glittering speck, 
about the twentieth part of a pin's-head in size, but, 
small as it was, giving a suggestion of the peculiar 
yellow colour of gold. 

" Is that all ? " I cried, contemptuously. 

*^Yes ; that's all. There you are, heathen. Take 
it, and no, you can't make much of it. That's no 
use, my man. We must find better places than this, 
or you'll never go back to China a rich man and 

hpcomp a Mandarin 

" No good place ? " 

'* No ; not worth washing." 

" Not good to washum/' said Quong. 

*' Wait till we get higher up." 

Quong nodded, took a little phial bottle from 
somewhere under his garments, and after a great 
deal of trying, contrived to get the tiny scale on the 
end of the cork, which he carefully inserted in the 
bottle once more. 

After this he settled himself down to rest till 
Gunson rose for us to continue our journey, which 
for the rest of that day was through pine forest, 
with the trees so closely pac]<ed that our progress 
was exceedingly slow; and evening was coming on 



250 TO THE WEST. 

fast as we readied a part where the trees opened out 
more like those in an English park, and there was 
soft grass beneath our feet. 

I was in advance with my eyes fixed upon the 
round, which had suddenly become soft and marsliy, 
the reason being plain, for on my left I could hear 
the hum of falling water, whsn I suddenly stopped 
short, and drew back so quickly that I came in 
contact with Esau. 

'' What's the matter ? " he cried, sharply. 

" Hush ! Indians," I wliispcred. 

" Indians ? Where ? " cried Gunson, eagerly. 

" They have gone along hei e/' I whispered. 
" Footmarks/' 

" Well, don't look so tragic, lad. They will be 
friendly ones no doubt ; and perliaps there is a 
settlement near, and we can get some fish. Oli, 
those are their footprints, are they ? " he said ; 
and he turned and caught the rifle from E'^au. 
*' That fellow had a fine broad foot of his 



own." 



'^ Yes, he must have been a big man," I said, as I 
gazed down at the plainly-marked sole and toes in 
the soft earth. 

" Bigger than the one made by Robinson Crusoe's 
savage," whispered Gunson. " There, get out the 
revolvers, and mind how you handle them. Be 
ready to hand me one if I ask after I have fired." 

" But you said the Indians were friendly." 

'* This tribe never is," replied Gunson, cocking the 
rifle and looking sharply round. " They run away 
generally, but sometimes they show fight, and we 
must be ready." 



I SEE FOOTPJIINTS. 251 

He looked carefully in every direction, and then 
signed to us to follow. 

" He's gone straight on, jnst in the track we want 
to follow." 

" Is there only one VI whispered, 
*' Only one, and it's very awkward, for I was just 
thinking of making camp for the night." 

" But we needn't be afraid of one Indian," said 
Esau, boldly. 

"No," replied Gunson; ''but we need be of one 
bear." 

" Bear ? " I said. *' Those are a man's footsteps." 
" Those are the prints of a very large bear, my 
lad/' said Gunson ; "and judging from tlieir appear- 
ance, I should say it's not very long since he passed. 
Now then, what had we better do ? " 

I did not feel myself capable of advising, and I 
suppose Esau was no more of an expert in bear, for 
he too was silent. 

" Don't speak. Follow me ; and as we go, hold 
your packs loosely so that you can drop them in a 
moment and take to a tree." 

"But bears climb trees," I whispered. 
" Not they," said Gunson. ' Gome along." 
And with the shades of cvenincf closini^ in fast in 
that wild valley, we folIo\\ed our companion as he 
went cautiously on, scanning every bush and rock, 
not knowing how soon the savage beast, whose prints 
continued right in the direction we seemed compelled 
to take, might rush out and dispute the way. 



J 



CHAPTER XXV. 




QUONG TAKES REFUGE. 

UR way was the same as the bear's, for 
the simple reason that it was the only 
open level part we could find on that 
side of the valley. To our left, the 
rocks went up in huge, precipitous steps, and then 
went down to the right to where the river foamed 
along a couple of hundred feet below. Aud there, 
with the gieatest regularity, were the great foot- 
prints which had deceived me, pretty close beside 
a little stream which trickled on along the level, till 
suddenly it turned to the rig] it, and plunged down 
towards the river. 

"Look!" said Gunson, pointing, and there were 

the footprints again^ hut tnruing off" now to our rigltt^ 

while our way lay straight on. 

"Then he's gone I" ciied Esau, eagerly. 

Crash I Bush ! There was the sound of breaking 
twigs, as if some monstrous cieaturc was forcing its 
way through the undergrowth to the right, and I 
heard another rush behind me as I stood there 
behind Gunsou, too much paralyzed to run, as I saw 



QtJONG TAKES REFUGE. 253 

him drop on one knee and raise the rifle to his 
shoulder. 

The rushing noise continued, but it grew more 
faint, and Gunson rose to his feet. 

" We've frightened him as m\ich as he has 

frightened us. Here, hi ! Hallo ! where are yo\i ?" 
he cried, as he caught sight of two bundles lying on 
the ground where they had been dropped. 

There was no answer. 

"Here, Dean, come along,'' shouted Gunson again; 
and I shouted too. 

"Ahoy!" came back from some distance away, 
and a good ten minutes elapsed before Esau le- 
appeared, looking hot and white, 

"Did you shoot him?" he said. 

"How could I, when you ran away with the 
ammunition. Seen the bear ? " 

" No." 

"Well, have you seen Quong ?'* 

" No," said Esau, rather dolefully, and looking as if 
extremely dissatisfied with the part he had played. 

" The bear can't have seized him ? " I said, looking 
at Gunson. 

" Impossible," he said. " It went the other way." 

Just then I caught sight of something blue, and 
buist out laughing. 

" What is it ? " cried Gunson. 

I pointed upward to where, about fifty feet from 
the ground, the little Chinaman was perched in a 
great spruce fir, clinging tightly to one of the 
horizontal boughs, with his feet on another, and as 
he peered anxiously down, looking like a human 
squirrel on the watch for foes. 



254 TO THE WEST. 

"Here, come down," I cried. "It's all right now. 
Come down." 

"Yes, come down, you little co^Vclld/' shouted 
Esau, who brightened up directly he found that 
some one bad cut a worse figure than he. " I say," 
he continued, with a forced laugh, "doesn't he look 
comic up there ? " 

" Yes," said Gunson, grimly, as he gazed fixedly 
at Esau, who turned uncomfortable directly, and 
made no remarks about Quong, as he walked to the 
foot of the txTC, which was about a hundred yards 
away, and losing sight of its occupant no\v he was 
hidden by the inteivoaing boughs. 

"Come, Quong," I said, "get down, or we shall 
leave you behind." 

" Gone ? " he said in a weak voice. 

"Yes; come along/' 

He descended slowly, and stood before us shaking 
the giay moss and dead fir-needles from his bkie 
cotton garment. 

"Big blown beace," he said. "Quong see him. 
Velly tlighten." 

He followed us to where tlio pack lay, slung it 
over his shoulder, and we ouce more tramped on, till 
a suitable spot was found for our camp a regular 
niche in the side of the valby, with a small pine 

SpTpadino- it^ bnnolm overhead for shelter 



o o 



Here, in spite of the risk of bears, we decided to 
halt for the night, and a good fire was soon blazing; 
and as if regularly engaged as our servant, Quong 
set to work at once^ and soon prepared our tea- 
supper, which was discussed as enjoyably as if we 
were in good quarters ; and that night passed away 



QUONG TAKES REFUGE, 255 

as I lay rolled up in my blanket, just as if I closed 
my eyes in the darkness and opened them directly 
to see thfe warm glow of the sun lighting up the east, 
and Quong busy baking cakes in the embers, the 
tea kettle steaming away close at hand. 

The weariness and low spiiits had passed away 
with the darkness, and after a splash in the stream 
close by, I felt ready for any amount of journeying. 

As I came back from the stream I met Gunson 
coming towaids me. 

" Did you see anything ? " he said, (puetly. 

"See anything? Only a squirrel.'^ 

" Look down there." 

He gave his head a nod a little to the left, and 
I followed the direction of Ijis eyes. 

" Dou't start; don't run,' he said, quietly. "If 
the Chinaman knows of it he will make a stampede 
into the forest, and we shall lose him." 

"But perhaps there is one close by," I said, 
nervously. 

"Very likely; for there have been two promenad- 
ing backwards and forwards about us all night. Look 
at their maiks These prints arc a little smaller 
than those." 

I had not noticed it till he j^ointed to the fact, and 
tlien I saw the foot-marks of two bears plainly 

enough. 

' I'm beginning to think," continued Gunson, " that 
we have selected their lair for our camp; but as they 
have not interfered with us, I don't think they will 
if we leave them alone." 

" But I can't eat my breakfast with those things 
about/* I said. 



256 TO THE WEST. 

" You have never tried yet, my lad. Try now. I 

will have the rifle and revolver ready to hand ; but 
take not the slic^htest notice, and behave as if nothing 



was wrong." 



" But " 

"Come, Gordon, I thought better of you," he said, 
smiling. " Where is your courage ? " 

" Come along," I said, making an effort to mabter 
the feeling of dread which had come over me ; anil 
I saw him smile as Esau came up with his arms full 
of dead wood for the fire, and directly after we were 
seated at our meal. 

If I had been alone I should have left that spot, 
beautiful as it was, directly, and I have no hesitation 
in confessing that it was the most uncomfortable meal 
I ever ate. But I kept my fears to myself, and only 

once was caught by Gunson looking anxiously around 
at the slope dotted with tree, bush, and clump of 

mossy rock^ when hi^ smile made me turn to my tin 

mug of tea directly. 

"I thought you would be the first ready," said 
Gunson, about half an hour later, when the sun was 
shininH" over the shoulder of one of the eastern 
mountains. "But look at Dean, how slow he is 
about shouldering the pack, and what's the matter 
with Quong ? " 

For that little individual suddenly came up smiling, 
with his hand under his blouse. 

As he came close up, he drew his tin plate from 
where it had been tucked up his breast. 

"Stop velly little while. Quong washee see 

gole." 

"Yes," said Gunson, giving me a meaning look, 



?J 



QUONG TAKES REFUGE. 257 

and then taking a step or two nearer the stream ; 
'' it looks a likely place ; but hallo, arn t these bears' 
footprints ? " 

He pointed to the moist earth close to the water's 
edoe. and both Esau and the little fellow ran to 
look. 

Directly after Quong came trotting back in a 
quick, comical manner, tucking his plate up under 
his blouse, and seizing and shouldering his pack, an 
example followed by Esau, who was the quicker of 
the two, and he kept a sharp Icok out all the time. 

" Now if you went behind that rock and roared, 
Gordon, or I was to fire my piece, there would be a 
stampede. 

I looked so ready to do what he first proposed, 
that Gunson said seriously 

"No, no; we have no time to waste;" and we 
went on up the valley, both Esau and Quong^ 
stepping out famously, while I was not at all sorry 
to leave our halting place behind, my liking for bears 
being decidedly in association with pits, and a pole 
up which they can climb for buns. 

It was a wonderfully beautiful walk that morning, 
and we determined to try and arrange our halts 
better, for at the end of about half an hour we found 
that had we known we could have rested under a 
roof; two men, who gave us a very friendly welcome, 
having started a rough kind of ranch, in a level nook 
close down by the river. In fact they were disposed 
to be so hospitable that they were half offended 
because we went almost directly. 

We learned from them though that we should 
find for days to come shanties here and there. 



258 TO THE WEST. 

" Where we can rest for the night ? " I said to one 
of the men. 

" Of course," he said, with a smile. " We see any- 
body so seldom, that \ve*re glad of a visitor who can 
speak of the old country." 

" YouVe got a beautiful place here." 

"Yes; tidy, tidy," he said; "only we don't feel 
quite sure about the river." 

" What do you mean ? '* asked Gunson. 

" Why, you see, mate, it's a lively sort of a stream. 
Quiet enough in winter, unless there's been a power 
of rain; but in the hot weather, when the snou's 
melting, it gets so full, that like as not some day 
t'll wash all this place away." 

"But it's fifty feet down there to the water," I 
said, smiling. 

*' What's fifty feet to a river like that, boy ? Why, 
after what I've seen I shouldn't jump out of my skiu 

if T saw it rise up a hundred." 

"See many bears about?" said Esau, rather 
anxiously. 

" Tidy few, my lad ; tidy few ; and pretty big uns 
sometimes," said the man, with a twinkle of the eye. 
" But berries has been rather plentiful these last two 
years, and they haven't eat us yet, I wouldn't inter- 
fere with 'em, though, if you met any." 

"Dangerous?" said Gunson, giving me a merry 

look. 

"Well, it's just as it happens," said the man, 
watching Esau's mouth, which had slowly opened ; 
" if they takes a fancy to you, they opens their arms, 
and just gives you a friendly hug; if they don't, they 
are a bit given to scratching and clawing. Where 



QUONG TAKES liKFUGr. 250 

may you be going, sqniro?" ]»e added, turning to 

me. 

"Fort Elk," I said. 

*' Oh ! Fort Elk, where tliey collects the skins. I 
know. Well, you won't get there to morrow, nor 
yet next week. Pleasant journey to you. Don't 
want to buy a bit o' bacon, [ suppose ? " 

But Gunson said he did, and the transfer was 
made for a handful of tobacco, Quong grinnino- witli 



delight at the sight of the red streaks of lean amongst 
the pinky white fat, and apparently pleased with the 
prospect of carrying a few more pounds. 

That night we slept at a shanty, and for the next 
two nights we had no need to camp out ; while, what 
was of great inipoit to us, we found that we need be 
under no apprehension about provisions, the people, 
who had settled down where th'^y found open patches 
of grazing land, being willing enough to sell or barter 
away flour enough for our wants 




C'HAPTEE XXVI. 




A DUl^ItULT Path. 

NE day seemed so much like another that 
we soon lost count of time, as we followed 
the windings and turns of the river, the 
beauty of the deep ravines that struck 
into the valley, each with its little fall or torrent, 
and the glimpses we kept getting of snow tipped 
mountains, keeping off the weariness we might have 
felt in some open monotonous land. 

Every now and then Quong settled down to wash 
the sands and gravel of the little streams that came 
tumbling down from the heights; and I saw that 
Gunson took a good deal of interest in his pro- 
ceedings ; but in spite of Quong's patient endeavours 
liis efforts were ah^ays barren, or resulted in the 
discovery of some tiny speck, which was added to 
the others in the phial so slowly that, as Gunson 
laughingly said, it seemed likely to take a year to 
build up enough gold to make a sovereign. 

" The gold is nearer the mountains if there is any, 
Gordon," he said to me, ''and it is impossible to 
search down here. "We must go higher up befoie 
I begin after Quong has left us, for I expect that as 



1 



A DIFFICULT PATH. 2G1 

soon as ^^e get to a spot where he can Avash out a 
scale or two with every pan oi' sand, he will bid us 
goud-bye." 

But as the days wont on that time did not airive. 
The Chinaman did not seem to think anything about 
pay for his services, but "was delighted to peifonn 
them for the sake of the protection of travelling witl 
us, and a share of the food we provided. 

So far oui journey had been glorious. Tliere had 
been plenty of hard work^ forcing our way through 
bushes, climbing fallen trees, some so rotten that tbey 
crumbled to dust with our weight, and threading our 
way among rucks; but at eveiy tarn there was the 
prand river foaminf:^ and rushino' down toward the 
sea, and masses of black-green forest with pines 

spiring up toward the sky. One morning as we 
toiled slowly on, it was very evident that the river 
was narrowing, and the sides growing steeper. We 
had often been at some height above it, but always 
ou a slope, where, with a little scheming, we could 
have got down to the water; but now a sheer wall 
of rock rose up forty or fifty feet on either side, and 
below it, looking black and deep, the river swilled 
and eddied aloncr. 



There was hardly a vestige of a trail here, the 
ground being too stony to leave any traces ; but the 
grent stream was our gaide^ and we climbed and 



stumbled on, Quong in front bending down under his 



load, and always patient, calm, and smiling, as if it 
was quite natural to him to be doubled up under a 
bio- bundle which went alon^ in front of us like some 
curious blanket clothed creature with thin blue legs. 
All at once the rough stony slope of the valley 



262 lo THE WLSt. 

dived down, and Quong, who liad just given liis load 
a hitcli up on his shoulders, disappeared. I was 
ncxty for Gunson had stopped hack to take off one 
of his Loots, with Esau holding his pack; and I had 
reached the spot where I had seen Quong last, pre- 
pared for a jump down on to a lower part or ledge of 
the valley slope, wdien I found myself face to face 
with the little fellow, and saw that he had dropped 
his bundle, and was hurrying back. 

As soon as we met, he niade a sign for me to 
be silent, and turned and pointed toward a clump of 
young firs. I could see no danger, and I whispered 
to him the one word "Bear?" 

He shook his head, and pointed again, when, to 
my utter astonishment, the green boughs were parted, 
as there was a flasli of silver, and a great salmon 
fell about a couple of yards away, to begin beating 
heavily with its tail, and flapping from side to side. 

T knew that these fish leaped, and I had heard that 

some of their bounds up cascades were tremendous, 
but I had ne\er known that a salmon could spring 
fifty feet up out of the water over the top of the 
rocky w^all nnIulIi formed the river bank, and away 
through a screen of young hrs. There, however, was 
the fact before nie, and with dehghtful visions of 
broiled salmon before my eyes, I dropped my pack 
and ran forward to secure the prize before it should 
take it into its head to make another gymnastic leap 
into the watei*. 

It was a splendid fellow, a full yard long, its scales 
silveiy blue and pearly in tlie morning sunshine, and 
regardless of wet and slime, I dropped on my knees, 

"Oh, you beauty 1" I exclaimed, and I raised it 



A mFFWVhT PATH. 263 

by the gills, and — tlroppeJ it diiectly, aiul leniained 
as if turned to stone, gazing in a hideous, painted 
red face, wlucli had been thrust out between the 
boughs of the firs, and stared as wildly at )ne as I 
at its owner. 

For a few moments I forgot tliat I had friends 
behind, and rested there quite still with what seemed 
to me a terrible silence all aiuund, till it was bi'oken 
by the salmon throwing itself over, and giving the 
stones upon which it lay a resounding flap. 

I fully expected to see the arm belonging to the 

head thrust out ■with a knife in the fist ; and when 

it was darted out from among the bushes, my own 

hand went involuntarily to the pistol I carried, but 

I dropped it again as I saw that it was only an open 

palm extended toward me, and I placed mine therein 

for a friendly shake, my heart beating less heavily. 

Then the hand was withdrawn, the sahnoa pushed 
townnl me and tlie hand held out a^ain 

" Hallo I " cried a voice, which made me glow with 
satisfaction. '* Been fishing, Gordon ? " 

Gunson strode up to us, and seeing the situation 
at a glance, he took out his tobacco pouch, opened it, 
pinched out a piece, and pointing to the salmon, 
offered the cut-up herb to the Indian, who now stood 
out in front of the young pines. I thought it ridicu- 
lous to offer what I considered a pinch of rubbish for 
the salmon ; but the Indian laughed, darted back, 
and returned holding another quiveiing fish by the 
tail, threw it down, and held out his hand for the 
toba'^co, evidently well pleased with his bargain. 

" Fish is cheap out here," said Gunson, laughing. 
" Here, Quong, one to cook and one to dry." 



264 TO THE WEST. 

Our Celestial friend literally pouncoil upon the two 
salmon as prizes as soon as lie saw that there was no 
danger, and set to work cleaning and splitting the 
fish, lightening them by gettiag rid of head and tail, 
and then cutting some splints of wood to keep one 
"well open for diying in the sun and for easy carriage. 

" There is nothing to mind," said Gunson. " It is 
only a fishing party ; '* and leading the way through 
the line of young firs, which acted as a screen, we 
came upon a group of Indians, two men and four 
women, all busy cleaning and splitting the fish which 
another man kept hauling up from the river in a 
rough net. 

It seemed a very primitive way of fishing, and we 
stood lookini:^ on and examininsf bome of the salmon 
hung to dry upon several roughly rigged up poles, 
before we went to the edge of the shelf upon which 
all this was going on, to find straight below us the 

other Indian standing upon a rough platform^ made 

by driving a couple of stout poles into the wall of 
rock at a fissure, and throwing a few branches across. 

This man had a coarse net on a ring at the end of 
a long, stout pole, and watching his opportunity as 
the fish came rapi lly up the rushing water, he 
plunged the net down, and brought it up with a 
gasping, struggling salmon. This was transferred to 
a hanging basket, and hauled up by the Indian at 
the edge, and carried to theparty -who were preparing 
and drying them in the sun for their winter store. 

It was all ridiculously easy. The Indian had only 
to keep on dipping out fish as fast as they could be 
prepared, and what I saw quite removed any ideas 
of our taking advantage of the man who had let the 



A DIFFICULT PATH. 2G5 

fish he carried slip out of his basket, so that it came 
with a dart to my side of the screen of fir=^. 

" That's an easy Avay of getting a living,'* said 
Esau, as we parted in a friendly way from the 
Indians, who stared at us in a very heavy, stolid 
way. " I think I should like to try that." 

"For how lono" ? " cried Gunson, with a laurfi. 
" Why, my good fellow, you'd be tired of catching 
the fish in a week, and more ti 'ed of eating them in 
a fortnight." 

" Tired ? of eatihg salmon ? " said Esau, laughing. 
"Oh, you don't know me. I had some once, and it 
was lovely." 

" Well, we'll try one of ours when we stop for 
dinner,'* said Gunson ; " but we must do a good 
morning's tramp first." 

That good morning's tramp did not seem to pro- 
gress much, for the way grew more and more difficult, 

and it was once tnken into consichMMtiou whether we 

had not better strike in away from the rivei ; and we 
should have adopted this course but for the fear of 
losing ourselves in the labyrinth of mountains to the 
north and east, and not being able to strike the 



stream agam. 



" You see, hard as the way is, it is sure/' said 
Gunson; "and as your goal and mine too are on the 
upper waters of the river, we had better keep to it," 

It was getting toward midday, and the sun shone 
forth with such power that we felt the little air there 
was come down the valley like the breath of an oven, 
and we should have decided to stop at once, cook our 
dinner, and rest, but for the fact that there was 
neither wood nor shade. For we had quite left the 



i 

J 



266 XO THE WEST. 

patches of forest behiu«l at this point, and were 
tramping slowly over a bare sterile region of tin 
most forbidding character, luw duwn by the livei. 
Higher up where we could not climb the tall trees 
again appeared, and every ledge and slope was 
crowned with dwarf pine, fern, and moss. 

"We had bettor keep on past that bare slope," 
said Gunson. "I can see tiees on beyond it. It 
looks green, too, as if there was water." 

Of course w^e agreed, for there was not a sign of 
water where we stood, and thirst was bcginnijjg to 
trouble us all. 

So we trampad on, Gnnson now leading, and the 
rushinGj sound of the river below the wall of rock 
sounding very tantalising as w3 grew hotter still, and 
the heat beojan to be rejected from the stones in 
a m.O:^t unpleasant way. It would have been bad 
enough for the unladen, but for people burdened as 
we were it was hard \\oik indeed. 

At the end of half an hour the river, which had 
been hidden from us save when we went close to tlie 
ed^^e and looked down, came iato view ac^ain, for the 
character of the valley had suddenly changed. We 
found now that there was the steep slope fi-om high up 
the mountain to the le\el of the water, which roared 
and surged along, and swept away the thin pieces of 
slaty stone whicli formed the slope a clatter-slide, 
as west country people would call it. These pieces 
were all lo jse and extremely unpleasant to walk upon, 
being shaly fragments of all sizes, from that of a 
child's hand up to thin fragments a foot or two across. 

The heat here was tremendous, and as we w^alkcd 
the stones gave way beneath our feet, and began 



A DIFFICULT PATH. 2G7 

setting ill motion little stony avaL\nclies, wliicL kept 
on gliding down till the whole of the slope secuied 
to be running into the river. No one talked, but 
strode on, not planting his feet in the footsteps of 
him who had gone bef'oie, but avoiding them, for they 
formed the centres of so much loose stufif ready to 
give way at a touch. 

We got along over about half a mile of this, and 
then paused on a bit of a shelf to rest, for about a 
quarter of a mile farther we saw our resting place ; 
the clatter ceasing, to give way to verdure with 
plenty of trees, and in their midst, temptingly 

beckoning us to fresh exertions, there was the water 
we needed — a beautiful filmy veil, floating down 
from hundreds of feet up, arched by a hopeful rain- 
bow, and anon gliding softly like a shower of silver 

rockets down behind the tall green firs. 

We know that there woiild be a beautiful pool of 

watei' at tlie foot of that nascrde, with o-repn, mossv 

grass, and plenty of pine-bong hs for our fire and to 
shade us from the scorching sun; and toward this 
enviable spot we pressed on, with the slope gro\^ing 
steeper and steeper, till at last w^e paused again for 
Gunson to investigate. 

It was time. For the past five minutes the slide 
had kept running so much toward the perpendicular, 
that at every step we loosened stones which began 
to tear down toward the river, and necessitated leaps 
and quick plunges to keep \\s from being carried with 

them, while a slip w^ould have meant a headlong fall, 
increasing in speed till the unfortunate Avas plunged 
into the foaming torrent which poured down, and 
would have swept him instantly away. 



268 TO THE WEST. 

** Watch how I go," said Guiibun "Keep cool, 
and don't think of faDiiiii". ] know it is a hard bit 
to get over, but it is uut above a couple of hundred 
yards ^\ here it is so bad ; after that it grows better 
and better, till you reach the trees. Now then, all 
stand still while I go first." 

He tightened his pack over his shoulder, took a 
good grip of the rifle, stood for a moment, and then 
strode forward, going diagonally, as if to reach the 

top of the slope. 

This seemed for the moment unnecessary, and 
likely to make the journey longer, but I soon saw 
that it was properly calculated, for as the stones 
kept on sliding beneath his feet as he struggled 
upward, he \\as constantly being biought down to 
the level oi where Ave stood, perspiring profusely, 
and fasciuatcd by the peril of the task. 

It w^as only now that I fully realized how steep 
the side of the valley was, anc. tliat a fall must end 
in the river among the black ciaggy rocks which 
stood up so threateningly amongst the white foam. 

He Avent steadily on, and as I stood there I felt, to 
use the common saying, as if my lieatt was in my 
mouth. A dozen tenible thoughts flashed through 
my mind : what should Ave do if he fell and Avas 
swept away? It Avould be impossible to save him; 
and as to his OAvn poAvers, I did not believe that any 
man could battle Avith that terrible torrent like river, 
Avhich would sweep him down, dashing him from 
rock to lock, till ho Avas cairied from our sight, 
leaving us alone in our despair to try some other 
Avay. 

The thoughts Avere paralyzing as they came Avitli 



A DIFFICULT PATH. 269 

lightning-like rapidity, for now it was dawning upon 
me, that shocking as it would be to see my fellow- 
creature hurled to death like that, somehow Gun- 
son, that rough, stern, disfiguied man, had made a 
kind of impression upon me — that there existed a tie 
between us. I don't think I hked him, but I felt at 
that moment as if I would have given anything to 
have been by his side, as I saw him totter, slip, 
recover himself, slip again, and begin gliding down 
fast, but always preserving his perpendicular. 

" He's gone," I said aloud ; but as the words left 
my lips he made two or three bounds, sending the 
stones rushing down heavily, as he regained his old 
level and went on rapidly. OnAvard stil], but what 
a length that seemed !— and now I was learning 
from his progress that the only chance of getting 
across was to keep right oq, exercising all the 
streni^th of nerve and muscle one possessed to 
go forward, for to have stood still meant to begin 
gliding rapidly downward, sinking more and more 
in a gathering avalanche of stones as others were 
loosened from above to fill up the vacancy that was 
made. 

Two-thirds — three-quarters of the way across — and 
once more he began to slide, but with desperate 
energy he went on by leaps and bounds now, and 
we set up a lioarse cheer as we saw him reach firm 
ground — a cheer which did not reach him, for the 
whole side of the slide seemed to be in motion, and as 
I saw him throw himself dowa, there was a curious 
rushing, rattling roar, as if fragments of ice were 
formed on the surface of a torrent and were rushing 
down into the liver. 



270 TO THE WEST. 

It was very evident that Gnn^on was exhausted 
by his tremendous efforts, for he lay on the rocks, 
motioning to us with his hand not to come, and wc 
stood looking from one to the other, mutely inquiring 
what was to be done next. At last he rose, un- 
fastened his pack, threw it down behind him, and 
came close to the edge of the slide, to look up and 
about with his eves sheltered, as if seckinf^^ for a 
better place for us to cross. 

I did the same, gazing high up to where the 
stones grew smaller, and then right down to where 
the flat, thin fragments plunged into the running 
river, to be swept away ; but, like Ganson, I could see 
no better place. 

By degi*ees, though, the fl(ittering, rattling glide 
ceased, and the slojDe looked level once more, and 
then Gunson put his hands to his mouth antl 
shouted — ■ 

" Cnn you hear what I say ? " 

"Yes." 

" Take your packs on your heads, and when you 
start keej) right on; never hesitate ; 111 be ready to 
help." 

We heard every Avord distinctly, and it sounded 
curiously like a whisper that ran along the sur- 
face of the stones ; and when he had ended, 
Quong looked at me sharply with his little black 
eyes. 

"Me go long nex'," he said, and as I nodded, he 
balanced his great pack deftly on his head, paused 
for a few moments to get it quite satisfactory, and 
then stretching out his arms like one who walks 
aloug a pole, he staited off, while so steep was the 



A DIFFICULT PATH. 2Yl 

slope that his extended fingers nearly touched the 
stones as he went aloni:^. 

The little fellow was so light, so steady and clever, 
that he tripped forward without dislodging anything 
like the amount of stones that Gunson had set 
running. But I could see that the effort needed 
was terrible as he went on and on, increasing his 
speed now, slowing then, and getting more and 
more over with far less effort, and crivinjy us no end 
of encouragement, as he at length reached the rocks, 
tumbled the load off his head— the load which had 
never seemed once to lose its poise and finally we 
could see him seated facing us wiping his hot face 
with the front of his blouse. 

" He's got over/' said Esau, hoarsely. 

" Yes," I said, in the same husky tones. 

" One of us has got to go nest." 



Yes," I said. " Who shall ^o ? 



"Wish I'd got a good pole with a spikft at the 

end/' said Esau. 
" So do I." 

*' Or I wouldn't mind if it was only a clothes-prop." 
" But we have neither, Esau." 

"Well, don't I know we haven't? What's the 
good o' being so aggravating, and keeping on saying 
we ain't — we ain't ? Lots o' beautiful trees behind 
us to cut clothes props to last all Camberwell for 
life, and there's lots over there in front, but they 
don't bring us one. It's always the way. There's 
lots o' money in the Bank o' England, but we couldn't 
get it to come out here." 

" Don't be unreasonable," I said, and I gave quite 
a start as a stone from above came rattling down. 



272 TO THE WEST. 

" Who's unreasonable ? " grumbled Esau ; " I ain't : 
only a bit wild at having to go across that precious 
bit o' solid slide. What do you think my mother 
would say if she saw mo coming here and going to 
start over that place ? Why, it would kill her." 

'' It does look dangerous,'* I said, sadly. 

" Look ] Why, it is. It's horrid." 

" But they've got over safely." 

"That don't mean I shall. Oh dear, oh dear! 
This comes o' picking up strange friends, and letting 

'em lead us into difficulties. And not so much as a 
walking stick to help us." 

I was iu no humour to argue, with the perilous 
crossing before me, so I remained silent. 

" I said and not so much as a walking stick to 

help us." 

^' Yes, Esau, I heard you." 

"Then why don't you say something ? " 

" What can I say ? Only be plucky and go." 

*' There you go again ! Oh, it does aggravate me. 
Now you want me to go off first." 

" No ; I'll go first if you like ; but I should like 
to see you safe over." 

" That's just what I feel about you. I say if I fall 
I shall go head over heels down, like a ball." 

"No, no; you must drop into a sitting position, 
and slide down/' 

" If you can," grumbled Esau. " Oh dear, I wish 
I hadn't come. I'd give all I've got to be sitting 
down in old Dempster's office, with him bullying me 
about a mistake in the copying." 

" Come along ! " came like an echo over the stones, 
and even that sound sent a few stones sliding down 



A DIFFICaLT PATH. 273 

as I looked across and saw Gunson with bis hands 
to bis mouth, while just then I saw something which 
quite cheered me. For there was a faint curl of 
smoke rising up from among the trees, and I knew 
that it was Quong making a fire to get us some tea, 

" There, Esau," I said, "QuoDg's getting ready to 
cook something. Come, you go, and let's have a rest 
and a good meaL" 

'' Ready to cook indeed 1 Why the sun's cooking 
one side of me now. There, ]o:jk at that." 

"Yes," I said, as I looked in the direction indi- 
cated ; " some kind of cag^le." 

** Yes ; flying away as ea^^ily as lie likes. Don't it 
seem a shame that a stupid bird should be able to 
i^o alon^jr like that, and we have to climb and fall 
down ? " 

*' Ob, I can't argue about that," I said, desperately, 
as, somewhat in doubt whether I could balance my 
park on my head, I raised it there and stood perfectly 
still. " I'm going to take a long breath and then 
start." 

" Here, what yer going to do ? " he cried. "I ain't 

going to be left all alone here." 

" Well, then, go first." 

'' But I can't go first and leave you. S'pose you 
can't get over after, or tumble down, what am I to 
say to tJjatMr. John ?" 

"What an unreasonable fellow you are, Esau !" I 
cried atigrily. 

'' There, you're getting nasty with me. That's right. 
Now I ask you, ain't a fix like this enough to make 
any fellow unreasonable ? " 



" But if we've got it to do, why not do it ? 



>j 



h 



274 TO THE WEST. 

" Gome on ! " Gimson shouted, and I took two 
steps forward, Avhen, bringing up his pack, Esau 
made a desperate phmgc and got before mc, sending 
quite an avalanche of stones down as he shouted 

"Me first! you wait." 

I had no alternative but to step back to the easier 
slope, and regain my position, while Esau went on 
tramp, tramp, balancing himself steadily, but instead 
of striking up the slope ho kept stiaight on for a 
time, and gradually sinking lower and lower as he 
went farther away. 

"Work upward !" I shouted 

" Well, ain't I?" came back, faintly heard amidst 
the rattling of the stones ; and once more I stood 
there Avaitincr sufferino ajronies as I saw him strucrcrle 
on, now going down, now fighting his way up, so that 
his course was like that of a snake across a dusty 
road, such as I had many a time seen down in the 

country Every now and thpu he fo+terod^ nnd T 

thought he was going to fall, but he recovered him- 
self, and Avent on with his feet sinking in the loose 
stones, and every now and then descending so far 
that I thought he would never recover his lost 
ground, 

I did not feel the heat so much now, the perspira- 
tion that stood upon my face was cold, and I gave a 
start now and then, as I shivered in my diead, 
making sure that he was gone. 

When at last I saw him get right across, I closed 
my eyes, feeling so giddy that I was glad to sit dowm 
on my pack for the sensation to pass off, being quite 
unequal to the task of going in my turn, 

I wish I were not such a coward," I said to 



a 



A DIFFICULT PATH. 275 

myself, as I looked forward and baw E*au lying down 
and resting. Then I wislied I had persevered and 
gone on, for I should have been out of my misery by 
that time. Lastly, as I saAV Gunson wave his hand, 
I rose, balanced my pack, and changed the side till 
I made it fit well over my head. T was quite 
encouraged to find that it seemed to add to my 
steadiness, and after taking a last look lound, and 
ending by fixing my eyes upon a point high above 
where Gunson stood, I took two stops and then 
stopped, saying to myself, "I shall never do it." 

I started again, and from that moment the nervous 
sensation of dread left mc. I felt firm and strong, 
and that all I had to do Avas to step boldly, and 
think of nothing but my pack, taking care that it 
did not escape iiom its icbting-placc ujion my head. 
And oddly enough, my anxiety lest I sliould let it 
fall to go bounding down the slope, kcjit me from 

thinking nhoiit mycjplf ?ts T trninpcd on^ with stones 

rattling, my feet going down with theui, and my 
breath coming shorter and shorter with the cxeition. 
But I kept my load well balanced, and went on till 
I was about half way across, when the stones seemed 
to be much smaller and began to flow like sand. It 
appeared as if all the larger ones had been set 
in motion by my companions, and that they had 
gone down, sweeping the surface clear for mc to 
grow more involved at every step, till I found that 
no matter how I struggled to get higher so as to 
keep near the horizontal line of the crossing, I kept 
sinking lower and lower till I felt that I should 
glide right into the river before I was across. 

With a desperate fe.eling of determination I kept 



270 TO THE WEST. 

on bearing up toward the top, but it was always 
quite labour in vaiu, through my want of skill, as 
tJiC samller stones being more fluent, I found myself 
still sinking down more and more with every step, 
til], mingled with the peculiar rattle of the gliding 
stones, came the roar of the river foaming and dash- 
ing amongst the rocks, and into A\hich I expected to 
be plunged. 

Foiward still, with a feeling of anger growing 
within me — a contempt for my own w^eakness that 
still kept back the feeling of diead. I had lost 
sight of Gunson and Esau, and thinking now of 
nothing but keeping on my legs, I dragged foot after 
foot out of the stones, and tried to plant one oa 
firmer ground, but tiicd in vain, till at last I had 
been carried down so low that though my head was 
aveited, and my eyes A\eie duected toward the spot 
I ouglit to have reached, I knew, as I made my last 
desperate effort, that I was only a few yaids above 
the water. 

Then, crash ! — crash ! crash ! crash ! my feet 

striking heivily anl sending the stones flying, I 
fought blinlly on. There was a singing in my ears, 

a tense of strangling in my throat, and above all, 

a dull, half stunned sensation, mingled with which 

were thoughts of the others ; and then as darkness 

came over me, and I fell forward, there was a sharp 

jerk, a few encouraging words were said by some one, 

and I found myself lying amongst stones and moss, 

too much exhausted to speak. 

" Better ? " said a well known voice. 

" Better ? " I said, faintly ; " have I been ill ? " 

"111? No, my lad; but you've had a narrow 



A DIFFICULT PATri. 277 

escape. You were ueaily down to the edge of the 
liver when 1 got hold of your Innd." 

* Aud the pack ?" I said, in a hu'^ky whisper, 

"It lies out yonder on the slo})e, waiting till the 
next slide of stones sweeps it away," 

"Then I dropped it?" I said, wonderingly. 

" Yes. Never 3nind tlie pack ; 3^ou are safe. 
Why, you did not manage so well as Ave did, 
Gordon." 

"No," I said, feeling very much exhausted and 

fiitif; "and yet I tliouglit I eoiild do it hefter. The 

stones gave way so," 

Gunson laughed. 

"Yes; we ought to have tried another plan. The 
whole slope is quite rotten, and nothing holds the 
stones together." 

I looked round now, and found that we were at 
the very bottom of a steep bit of precipice, down 
which something blue was coming cautiously, which 
we recognized as Quong. 



"What is it, my man?" said Gunson. 

"Come long down get pack," said Quong. "Yon 
velly bad ?" he continued to me. 

" No, no, we must leave it," said Gunson ; and I 
looked at wheie my pack lay, tiglUly done up in its 
bkinket, about a score yards away. 

"Leave pack ?" cried Quong, looking at Gunson as 
if he thouoht him mad. "Leave fo' Julian man 



come fmd ? No. Quoni:^ wt him." Antl o;()in<^ 
quickly and delicately over the stones with a step 
that was almost cat like in its lightness, he had 
reached my bundle almost before Gunson could 
protest. Swinging it up on his head as ho turned, 



278 TO THE WEST. 

he began to come back as quickly as he went, but 
now he began to get lower and lower. 

" He'll be swept away 1 " cried Gunson, excitedly ; 
and, placing one foot at the extreme verge of the 
firm ground, he reached out towards the Chinaman. 

*'Giv'e me yoiiv hand, my lad," he cried, hoaiscly; 
and as I lay there, I stretched out my hand to have 
it seized, while I watched Qu(mg coming nearer, 
splashing up the water now and sending the spray 
flying as he stiained forward to get hold of Gunson. 

For a few moments we both thought he was gone, 
for he had glided down till the water Avas over liis 
ankles, and still, as he reached out, he was a few 
inches fiom Gunson's grasp, while for him to have 
moved woull have been fatal; but he made one 
more effort, hooking his fingcts over Gunson's, and 
then there was another jerk, the bundle came over on 
to me, and as our friend made a violent muscular 
effort to throw himself back^ t'le little Cliiaanun was 
drao-o-ed rioht over on to firm f^jround. 




CHAPTER XXYII. 



HOW WE FOUND OUT A PUZZLE. 



i( 




>} 



said Quong, getting up and shaking 



his legs ; ''got velly wet." 

'* You stupid fellow ! you nearly lost 

your life," said Gunson, angrily. 
"Lose life?" said Quong, looking puzzled; "who 
lose life ? Don t know." 



"There, go on up and take the pack. Can you 

climb up, my lad ? " 

I replied that I could, and followed Gunson, who 
showed me the way he had descended by the help 
of the rocks, and projecting roots of the dwarf firs 
which began to grow fieely as soon as the slaty 
shale ceased. 

Esau was waiting at the top, ready to lend me a 
hand, smiling triumphantly as soon as we weie 

alone. 

'*You should have tried to go up all of a slope 

as I did," he said, " not down of a slope as you 

did.^' 

"I tried my best, Esau," T said, sadly. 

*'0f course you would. Well, I hope there isn't 



280 TO THE WEST. 

going to be much more like that for us to do. Once 
is enough." 

By this time Quong was back at his fire, and we 
soon after partook of our mid-day meal, with copious 
draughts of tea for washing it down, and after an 
hour^s good nap started off again to find no further 
difficulties that afternoon, for our journey was 
through pine forest once more, where the gray moss 
hung like strands from the older branches, and in 
the more open places the dark, bronze-leaved bar- 
berry grew plentifully, with its purple bloomed fruit 
which hung in clusters, and liad won for themselves 
the name of "Oregon Grapes." 

They did not provo to be grapes, though, that we 
cnred to eat, for Esau's testing of their flavour 
was (piite enough for both. The report he gave 
me was ^' Horrid " ; so I contented myself with tlie 
little bilberries and cranberries we came upon from 
time to th^ie. 

It was on the second day after our struggle across 
the slope, that we came to a complete change in the 
scenery. The valley had been contracting and 
opening out again and again ; but now we seemed 
to come at once upon a portion of the river where 
the sides rose up almost perpendicularly, forming a 

wild, jagged, picturesque, but terrible gorge, down 
which the river came thundering, reduced to narrow 
limits, and roaring through at a terrible speed. The 
noise, multiplied as it was by echoes, was deafening, 
and as we stood gazing at the vast forbidding chasm, 
our journey in this direction seemed to have come 
suddenly to an end. 

I looked UY* at Gunson, and found he was looking 



now WE FOUND OUT A PUZZLE. 281 

at me, "vvliile Esau had r^ot his hat off scratchiaf^ his 
head, and Quong had placed his bundle on tlie 
ground, seated liiniself, and was cahidy renting as if 
there were no difficulties before him — nothiuGf troub- 
lous in the least. 

"Well," said Guu'^on, lookinc;' at Esau ," wliat do 
you think of the canon ? " 

"Don't see that it'll bear thinking about/' replied 

Esau. "Going back now, ain'L we?'' 

"Going back? I thoii<^ht you were making for 
Fort Elk " 

" Yes, but that ain't the Avay," said Esau. " No- 
body couldn't go along a phce like that." 

"We shall have to clitnb up the side, and go 
round somehow^ shall we not V 1 said to Gunbon. 

''That seems to be the most sensible way, my lad," 
he replied ; " but how are we to get up the side ? 
We might perhaps manage if we were across the 
river, but this wall of rock is so neaily perpendicular 
that it would puzzle an engineer. We could not 
scale that without ladders, ropes, and spikes." 

Both Esau and I staied up it the precipice which 
towered above our heads, and my companion took 
off his cap and rubbed his curly hair again. 

" We couldn't get up there ? " he said, looking at 
me. "I'll try if you do." 

"Oh, impossible," I cried. "We shall ha\e to go 
on along the side just above the river." 

"What? In there?" cried Esau. 

" Yes." 

"Why, yon must be mad,*' he said. ''Isn't he? 
No mm couldn't get alon^ there. It would want 



282 TO TFIE WEST. 

" I don't know," said Gunson, thoughtfully. ** Here, 
let's camp for a bit." 

At these words, Quong, who had been rocking 
himself quietly to ami fro, jumped off his bundle, 
looked sharply about him, and then made a run for 
a niche in the side of the gorge right up in the 
entrance, where the sides literally overhung. 

Here he placed his pack, and began to collect 
wood, descending toward the river to where a large 
tree, which had been swept down the gorge when the 
iver was much higher, now la}^ beached and stripped, 
and thoroughly dry. He attacked it at once with 
the axe, and had soon lopped off enough of the bare 
branches to make a fire, and these he pded up in the 
niche he had selected, and started with a match, the 
inflammable wood catchino- at once ; while I took the 



1 



axe and went on cutting, as Quong unfastened the 
kettle and looked around for water. 

There was plenty rushing along thirty or forty 
feet below us, but it was milky looking with the 
stone ground by the glaciers far up somewheie 
in the mountain. That, of course, had to be 
rejected. 

" Make mouth bad," Quong said, and he climbed 
up to where a tiny spring trickled down over a 
moss grown rock so slowly that it took ten minutes 
to fill our kettle. 

" This is a bit of a puzzle," said Gunson, as he sat 
calmly smoking his pipe and gazing up the terrible 
gorge ; and I was returning from the fire, where I 
had been with a fresh armful of wood, leaving Esau 
patiently chopping iu my place. 

" Puzzles can be made out," I said. 



HOW WE FOUXI) OUT A PUZZLE. 283 

"Yes, and we ai'e going to make this one out, 
Gordon, somehow or another. What an echo ! " 

He held up his hand, and we hstened as at every 
stroke of Esau's axe the sound flew across the river, 
struck the rock there and "was thrown back to our 
side, and then over again, so that we counted five 
distinct echoes growing fainter as they ran up the 
terribly dark, j^igi^ed rift, till they died away. 

*' Can't we find some other way ? " I said, for I felt 
awe-stricken by the rusliing w^ater, the forbidding 
nature of the rocks as they towered up, and the 
gloom of the place, in which quite a mist arose, but 
there was no sun to penetrate the fearful rift, and 
tint the tliin cloud with rainbow hues. 

" I'm afraid not, Gordon," he replied. " I fancy that 
there is a track along theie that has been used, and 
that we might use in turn. If I can convince myself 
that it is so, we English folk must not turn our backs 
upon it. Such a ravine as that cannot be very long. 
Win}ou try?" 

I wanted to say no, but something within me 
made me say yes, and I saw Gunson smile. 

" Why are you laughing ? " I said, with my checks 
feeling warm. 

" Because I was pleased. I like to see a lad like 
you master himself." 

''Ahoy! wood ho!" shouted Esau from below; 
and I gladly seized the oi^portunity to end a con- 
versation which troubled me. 

Half an hoi;r later, we were seated tosrether 
enjoying a hearty meal, which had the peculiarity 
of making the canon seem less terrible to us, while 
as to Quong, everything was the same to him, and 



284 TO THE WEST. 

he was ready to go anywhere that Gunsou indicated 
as the way. 

" Xow," said the latter, as wc finished, and Quong 
took oiu* place as a matter of course, " what do you 
say ? It must be midday, when we always have a 
nap till it grows cooler. Sliall we have one now or 



o 



start at once ? 

" It will be cool enough in there," I said. 






" Have a nap," said Esiu ; " we're all tired, 

"But it may take us a long time to get through, 
and wo don't want to be caught in a place like that 
at nii:flit." 

" Right, Gordon," said Gunson. '*Dean, you are 
in the minority. We must eitlier start as soon as 
wc can or wait till morning." 

"That is the best," said Esau, uneasily. " I don't 
want to show no white ftather«, but I ask any one 
Is that a nice place to tackle after being walking all 

the mornino- with a load ?" 

" No ; I grant that," said Gunson. " But come 
along, Gordon, and let's explore it a little way." 

lie led off and I willingly followovl him, to descend 
close to the rushing wateis, and then climb up again, 
looking in every direction for something in the way 
of a track, but without avail. On every hand 
were piled-up rocks, and though we climbed on one 
alter another and stood looking into the gorge, therti 
was nothing to bo seen. As f<ir as we could make 
out the place had never been trodden by the foot ot 
man. 

We had penetrated about a hundred yards, and 
stood upon a flat topped rock, looking down at the 
roaring, swishing water, while before us everything 



HOW WE FOUND OUT A TUZZLK. 285 

appeared of a dark foibiddmg gi'-iy, iii strange con- 
trast to the bright slit of mossy green we could see 
when we looked back, in the midst of which rose up 
a column of smoke, and beside it the dark figure of 
Esau with his hand over his eyes, evidently peering 
in after us. 

"The puzzle is difficult to make out, my lad," said 
Gunson. " It's hard work making your way through 
a country tliat has not been thoroughly mapped. 
Can't i-'ct alonii: here, eh ? " 

"No," I =;aid, rather despondently, and then I 
started^ for Esau hailed us to come back, and we 
could see him shoutins: with ins hands to his mouth, 
evidently in a great state of excitement. 

We waited till the echoes of his voice had died 
away, and then I shouted back, a]id a curious croip 
ing sensation ran through me at tlie sound of my 



voice. 



It was impossible to hurry back, for thr^re wrro 

too many impediments in the way, but we made all 
the haste we could, for there was evidently some- 
thincf wronir, thoui:^h what that mi^^ht be "was invisible 
to us, as we descended and climbed, and wound (Uir 
way in and out in places that Gun&on confessed 
were "ticklish," as he called it, and Avhere he always 
paused in his firm, quiet way to offer me his help. 

At last we were close to Esau, who was waitin-T 
anxiously with the rifle in his hand, ready to thrust 
it into Gunson's. 

" Indians, eh ? " said the latter, as we now saw 
what had been hidden from us by the shape of the 
valley — a group of half a dozen spear-armed Indians, 
who drew back a little and stood watching us on 



286 TO THE WEST. 

seeing the accession made by our crossing to the 
group by the fire. 

Gunson did not hesitate. He took the lifle, and 
felt whether his revolver was ready to liis hand 
before walking straight up to the group, making 
signs intended to be fiiendly. They had their effect, 
for the men came forward, one of them holding out 
a fieshly-opened salmon as a token of good-will. 

Tliat was enough for Quong, who ran forward 
smiling, whilst Gunson tiied the men with such 
Tudian words as he could remember. But it was all 
in \ain. They gave tip the great fish to the China- 
nnn quietly enough, and stood staring at us in a 
stolid way, till our leader took out his tobacco-pouch 
and gave each a good pinch. They were friends 
du'ectly ; and now by signs Gunson tried to make 

them understand that he wanted to go through the 
canon, and that he would give them a present if they 
would guide us. 

''I can't make them understand, my lad," he said 
at last. 

*^ But I think they do understand," I said. " Let's 
slioulder our packs, and see if they Avill lead the 
A\ ay. 

" Must be going our way," said Esau, " because 

they overtook us." 

" Well, let's try," said Gunson; and in a couple of 
minutes we were standing loaded, Gunson pointing 
up the gorge. 

One of the Indians showed his teeth, said a few 
words to his companions, and they all faced round, 
and began to lead the Avay back. 

" No, no," 1 shouted, and I pointed up the gorge, 



HOW WE FOUNO OUT A rUZZLU. 287 

when the leadnig Indian snulcnl and went on 
again. 

"This >\iil not Jo," I said to Gunson. 
"Stop a few minutes," he said, thoughtfully. 
" Let's see. I think they understand us." 

So we followed them back for a couple of hundred 
yards or so, whca they stopped short, pointed up- 
wards, and began to ascend the side of the valley at 
a spot where it was too stony for any trace of a track 
to be seen, but wliore it was p>.ssible to climb up and 
up, with the way growing more giddy moment by 
moment, and the exertion so iiieat that we weie soon 
glad to shift our packs. 

This brought tlie In lians to a stand, and their 
leader said bomething which was responded to by 
four of the men taking our j)aeks and bearing them 
for us, the cljief going fir^t, and the other juan 
taking the spears of those who carried the h)ads, and 
walkins; last. 

In a few minutes we were where the s)noke of our 
fire rose up in faint blue wreaths right above our 
heads, and all doubts oi there being a way was at 
an end, for without tlie si i-htest hesitation the 
Indians went on, their leader evidently quite at 
home, though as I looked down I could only see 
rucfo'ed stones, without a trace of their havinir bein 
worn by feet, while above us was the vast wall of 
rock along whose side we crept hke so many ants, 
and below there was the river foamini:^ and roarinix 
alou£j toward the uioutli. 




CHAPTER XXVIII. 



LSAU IN Dli FICULTIKS. 



II dear! oh dear! " wliispcrcd Esau^ as he 
cainc up close behiml me. 
"What's the matter?'* 
. " 'Spose tlicy pitch us head over lieels 
down here and ^o off' Avith our loads, what then ? " 




a 



We shouldn't be tired to nip;ht, Esau." 



''Oh, I say, don't laugh," he whispered ; *' it's too 
dreadful. What a place to come along ! Feel 

giddy V 

"No; don't talk about it," I replied quickly, for 
the idea was too horrible. But I took heart as I 
glanced at the loaded men, who walked on as calmly 
as if there were no danger -whatever, A\hile Quong 
came behind Esau, quite as coolly. 

I am afraid to say at what angle the rocky wall 
went up- above us. E^au declared it was quite 
straight, which was absurd ; but I believe I am right 
in saying that the part along which the principal 
Indian led ns was as steep as it was possible for a 
man to make his way along, while over and over 
again the rock curved right above our heads. 

It was evident that we were going along a regular 



ESAU IN DIFFICULTIES, 289 

track, for the Itidian never hesitated. Sometimes 
he led the way down and down till we were nearly 
close to the water, then up and up till it looked as if 
we were to be led right to the top of the mighty 
rock wall, and out among the mountains. But the 
track always led down again ; and at last in the 
dim twilight we found that we were close to a sheer 
precipice which lose out of the water, and along 
which, not six feet above the torrent, the leader 
began to make his way sidewise, his face to the rock, 
his arms extended, and his feet supported by a ledge 
formed by the bottom part of the vast rock projecting 
a little beyond the upper. 

The ledge at its widest was not five inches across, 
and as I saw first one Indian and then another hancf 
our packs away from them and begin creeping along 
that ledge, clinging by their outstretched hands, I 
fully expected to see them fall headlong into the 
boiling torrent oud be swopt nwny My palms grew 
moist, my eyes dilated, so that there was a painful 
aching se]isation as if they were strained, and I felt 
as though I should like to run away, and at the same 
time so fascinated that I was obliged to watch them. 

At last I turned shuddeiingly away, and then 
caught sight of my companions, to see that Gunson 
was holding on to a piece of rock with one hand, 
while he readied forward to watch the men, every 
feature intent, and his shaggy brows knit, and his 
upper teeth displayed as he pressed them on his 
lower lip. Esau had his eyes close shut and his face 
wrinkled up into a grin, as if he were in pain. And 
there just behind him was Quong, seated on a pro- 
jecting stone, looking straight away before him, as 

T 



200 TO THE WEST. 

if ]je \yere i-azmu' at liis Lome in China, blinking-, 
dreamy, and paying not the leist htcd to the danger 
of the men or to that which was to cunie for us alh 

There was another present the last Indian, who 
stood like a bronze st.jtiie, resting upon the sheaf of 
spears lie held, and watching us all curiously, as if 
noting our manner, and trying fco read our thoughts. 

Not a slip, not a moment's liesifcation. The 
Indians went on, with our packs tlireatening to drag 
them off the ledu'e into the river ; but these were 
only threats, and wc watched till they had nearly 
reached the end of the ledge, where I saw the leader 
pass round a projection and di^ajtpean 

"I say," whispeied Esau, "tell nie when they are 

all safe." 

I did not answer, and he opened his eyes and 

looked round at me. 

"I say — look, look I There are only two tliore," he 
ciicd excitedly. " Have the others gone in ?" 

"No, no. They are safe. Look!" For the last 
two gradually passed on out of our sight, and Gunson 
drew a long breath full of relief. 

"Hah!" he ejaculated. "All right. Well, lads, 
if those fellows can do it with the loads hanging 
from them, it ought to be easy for us. Who goes 

first ? " 

There was no reply, and Gunson said quickly- 



" Now, Quong, on with you. 



7f 



" Me go long nex ? All light." 

He stepped down on the ledge, carefully catching 
hold of the rock, and edged his way along without a 
moment's hesitation. 

"There, Goidou," said Gunson, "that's the ad- 



ESAU IN DlFFlOaLTlES. 291 

vantage of having a very small brain. On ^\ltIl 
you next, Dean. I want to see you lads over 
safe." 

" But I ain't got a small biaiji," said E^au. *' Won't 

you go first ? " 

"No. I went over the clatter slide fir&t, and 
regretted it directly I had started. I felt as if I 
ouf>lit to have been last. Now then, don't hesitate." 



- But " 



*' Shall I go over, Esau ? " I b n 1. 

"Yes, j'lease. One of my ^ei^s is a bit stiff, and 
I think I'll take oft' my boots iirst." 

By this time Quong liad ncaily readiod the pait 
where there was the projection to go roinid, and I 
stepped doun with something eL^e to think about, for 
I saw Gunson laughing rather contemptuously at 
Esau, who sat down at once to remove IjIs boot^, his 
face scarlet with shame and annoyance, for Gunson 

said mockingly 

"Don't take off the stiff leg too, my lal; you'll 
want it." 

I glanced back, and caught Esau's eye, and fancied 
that I heaid his teeth click toorether as he ccave a 
kind of snap, looking as if he Avould like now to 
take my j^lace for very shame. 

But it Avas too late. I was already on the ledge, 
feeling for places to get a hold, and finding that the 
rock was so full of ciacks that I could insert my 
fingers easily enough, and steady myself as I shifted 
my leg along. Gunson bad followed down close 
behind mc. 

" Well done !" he shouted, so as to be heard above 
the roar of the w^ater. " Don't look down at the river, 



292 TO THE WKST. 

my Idd, but keep your eyes ou the rock, and you'll 
soon be over." 

I uicule no attempt to reply, but kept sidling my 
Avay along slowly and cautiously, and finding the 
task much easier than I thought it would prove ; 
in fact, if it had been solid ground below me instead 
of that awful torrent, I felt that the task would have 
been nothing. It was the thought that a slip would 
be fatal which made all the difference, and I had 
hard work to resist the maiinetic attraction of that 



writhiricf w.iter, whidi seeii^ed to be trviufT to mnke 

me look at it, so that I might turn giddy and fall. 

Step by step, with a careful hold taken, and 
making myself determined as I mastered my feelings 
of cowardice, I kept on in a fixed stolid way, till I 
thouoht that I must be half way aloncj the ledij^e, and 
that now every step would bring me nearer to safety, 
wlieu, to my utter astonisliment, I found myself 
within a yard of Quong, "who was again seated on a 
block of stone, blinking thouglitfully, and ready to 
look up at me and nod and smile. 

A curious feeling of satisfaction came over me 
that glow of pleasure one feels at having conquered 
a difficulty, and instead of going on I edged back a 
little, till I could stand and watch for the others 



commaf". 



To my surprise I found that Gunson was half-way 
across, and he hastened his pace as he saw me there. 

" Here, Avhat is it ? " he shouted, so as to make his 
voice heard. " Afraid to go any further ? " 

* No, no ; I stepped back to see Esau come along." 

*' Oh ! He had not got both his boots off ^vhen I 
started." 



ESAU IN DIFFICULTirS. 203 

There stood Esau plainly enough beside the Indian. 
His boots were tied together by the strings, and 
hung about his neck, and he was watching us. 

I should have shouted at him, but my words would 
not have been heard, and even if I had felt disposed 
to wave my hand, leaving part of my hold, E^au 
could not have seen me, as Gunson was between. 
And still the lad did not move. 

We saw the Indian look at him and walk down 
toward the ledge, and it seemed to ns as if he tried 
to make him go by saying something, which of cou'^e 
E?au could not understand in words, but he com 
prchended his movements, and we saw him turn 
upon him angrily. 

"Oh," shouted Gunson, "I wish that savage would 
spur him on with one of his spears, the miserable 
cowaid !" 

*' He'll come directly," I shouted back. " He isn't 

a CAwnrd^ only it tfikes hirn a long time to make lip 

his mind/' 

''He and I will have a desperate quarrel one of 
these days, I know. Hah 1 at last," cried Gunson, 
for, as if desperate, Esau now stepped on to the 
ledge and began to sidle along, the Indian coming 
close behind him. 

But he made very slow progress, stopping every 
now and then to look down at the water; nnd nt 
such times we saw him clinging fast to the rock, as 
if afraid to move after\\ards. Then on again for two 
or three steps, with the Indian calmly following him 
up and waiting his pleasure. 

This went on till Esau was about half-way, when 
we saw him look down again, and then make quite 



2.9 i TO THE WEST. 

a convvilsive cliitcli at the rock, against wliicli he now 
rested motionless, and without makin^c an effoit to 
move. 

•' Is he resting ? " I shouted. 

" No ; lost Iiis nerve entirely," said Gunson. " Stop 
where you are and hold my rifle.'* 

He thrust it into my hand, and then went quickly 
along the ledge back to where Esau stood motionless, 
and I saw him go to the poor fellow and speak to 

him. 

Esau raised his head and looked at him as I 
thought piteously, and then oace more he began to 
edge his way along, step by step, with Gunson close 
by him, and, as it seemed to me, through the mist 
\Ahich rose from the water, holding one arm behind 
him to help him along. 

Very soon, though, I saw what had been done. 

The Indian had stretched out one of the spears he 

carried behind Esau, and Gunson had hold of the 

other end, so that as they held it the shaft formed a 

rail behind Esau's back, giving liim more moral than 

real support, but sufficient to encourage him to try, 

with the result that they soon came so near that I 

had to creep back along round the corner; and a 

few minutes later we were on better ground, where 

the Indians raised the packs once more, and again 
led the way onward^ with Esau and me last. 

We trudged on in silence for nearly an hour before 
Esau spoke. I had tried to draw him into convcrsa 
tion several times, but he had preserved a sulky 
silence, which annoyed me, and I went on just in 
front, for of course we were in single line. All at 
once he said loudlj 



r. 



ESAU IN DIFFICULTIES. 295 



"'Tain't my fault." 

"What is not?'' 

"That. I was born and brought up to walk on 
flag stones. I was never meant to do this sort of 
thing; if I had been, mother would have paid for 
me to learn to walk on tight-ropes. 



i) 



*' There," I said, "you got over it. Never mind 



now." 



" But I ain't got over it, and I do mind now," he 
cried angrily, "How would you like to be laughed 
at because you were thought to be a coward ? And 
I ain't one, I'm sure/' 

" Of course 3^ou are not." 

"But of course I am, and you know I am. I 
never expected British Columbia was made like this. 
Here's a pretty place ! Why, it's just as if the world 
had been split open ever so far, and we was obliged 
to walk along the bottom of the crack/* 

"Yes,'^ T '^nid^ as T looked uji the side of the canon 

to where the sky seemed to be a mere strip above 
oiir heads ; "but then see how awfully grand it 
is/' 

"Oh, yes, I know it's awfully enough, but I don't 
see no grand. I wish I hadn't come/' 

" What, because we've had a bit of difficulty ? " 



"Bit? Why it's all difficulty. I couldn't help it. 
I wanted to come along pluckily like you did, hut 
something inside wouldn't let me. It was just as if 
it kept whispering, ' Don't go ; you'll be sure to fall, 
and then what']] your motlier say ? 

" But it was a horrible bit to go along." 
"You didn't seem to think so," he said, in an ill 
used tone. 



> }> 






29G TO THE WFST. 

*' But I did feel so, and I was frightened." 

" Couldn't ha been, or you'd have stuck fast same 
as I did." 

" But I was frightened, I tell you, and so was 
Gunson." 

"Then he needn't have been so nasty with 
me." 

" What did he say ? " 

" Nothing. That was the worst of it. Only wish 
he had, 'stead o' looking at me as he did. For I 
couldn't help it a bit. 

"Well, never mind; it's all past now." 

" It ain't, I tell you, and never will be past. 
Everybody will know tliat I am a horrible coward, 
and it will stick to me as long as I live." 

I tried to laugh at him and pass it off, but it was 
of no use. He took it regularly to heart, harping 
constantly upon Gunson's manner to him. 

" But you are making mountains of mole-hills," I 
cried at last, angrily. 

" Well, that's what they are made out of, isn't it, 
only plenty of it. 

"But you say he looked at you." 

"Yes; he looked at me." 

"Well, Avhat of that? There's no harm in his 
looking at you." 

" Oh, ain't there ? You flon't know., He just can 

look. It was just as if he was calling me a miserable 
cowardly cur, and it cut me horrid. S'pose I did 
stick fast in the middle of that path — Bah ! it isn't 
a path at all — wasn't it likely ? If I hadn't stopped 
and held on tiglit, I should ha' been half way back 
to the sea by this time, with my nose knocked off at 



n 



ESAU IN DIFFICULTIES. 297 

the least, and the sahnon makino- a moal of wlint 
was left of me. 'Course I held on as tight as I could, 
and enough to make me/' 

"Well, never mind/' I said. ''There: I won't 
hear a word more about it. Perhaps I shall be a 

horrible coward next time, and then Gunson ^^iIl 
look at me.'' 

" If he does, I shall hit him, so there." 
Esau looked ill used at me because I laughed, and 
kept on muttering all the tmie we were in that 
terrible gorge, just as if the gloom of the place 
oppressed him. As for me^ I seemed to have enough 
to do to watch where I placed my feet as we slowly 
climbed on for hour after hour, thinking all the 

time of the valley I bad read of years before in the 
Pilgrims Progress, and feeling half ready to see 
some horrible giant or monster rise up to stop our 
way. 

It was rapidly growing so dark down betweeji 

those terrible jagged walls that I began to think we 
should have to make camp soon and sleep theie in 
some one or other of the black hollows, and with- 
out fire, for there was nothing visible but scraps of 
moss, when, all at once, on turning a coiner which 
liad appeared to block the way, it began to grow 
lighter, for the sides of the gorge were not so 
perpendicular. 

Then another corner was turned, and it was lighter 
still with the warm soft light of evening, and there 
in the distance was a glowing spot wliich I took at 
first for the sim, but which I knew directly after to 
be the ice-capped top of a mountain glowing in the 
sun. BeloAv it was the pine forest again, looking 



298 TO THE WEST. 

almost black, while away on high a cascade came 
gliding dow^n like golden spray, touched as it was 
by the setting sun. 

Half an hour's more weary tramp, and the chief 
of the Indian party stopped short, and w^e found 
that we had suddenly come upon an opening by 

the river where about a couple of dozen Indians 
w^ere standing by the rows of salmon they had 
hung up to dry in the sun. 

They all stood gazing at U3 in a stolid way, till 
the man who had guided us went up to them, and 
then one of the party turned back to their cluster of 
teej^ces and came up to us directly after with a 
friendly offering in the shape of a couple of freshly- 
caught still living salmon, which Quong bore off 
eagerly to a spot above the camp. 

*' But the Indian^" I said to Gunson. '' Shall we 

be safe ? " 

''Safe or in danger, my lad," he replied, " I want 
food and rest. This is the worst day's w^ork we have 
had. All, I am beginning to believe in Quong. 
Here, let's help the little fellow. You get some 
water while I cut some wood. 

As we separated I had to go by Esan, who looked 

at me suspiciously. 

" T say," he whispered, " what has old Gunsou been 
saying- about mo ? 







CHAPTER XXIX. 




" LOOK ! " 

CAN'T dcscrihc my feelings towards 
Gnnson. One I our ho seemed to mo 
coarse, brutal, and common; at anotlicr 
he was the very reverse, and spoke in 
conversation as we tramped along together about 
books and languages in a way which made me think 
that at one time he must have been a gentleman. 
At these moments his voice sounded soft and pleasant, 
and he quite won me to him. 

On the morning after our perilous passage through 
the gorge, he quite took me into his confidence, talk 
incf to me and consulting with me as if I were a man 
of his own age, while Esau hung aloof looking jealous 
and answering in a surly way whenever he was 
addressed. 

" You see," Gunson said, " the matter stands like 
this : along by the river, which is getting more and 
more to assume the character of a mountain torrent, 
the way must be difficult. It winds, too, terribly, 
so that we have to travel perhaps twice as far as we 
should if we made a straight cut for the Fort." 
" That sounds the easiest way," I said. 



300 TO THE WFftT. 

"Yes ; but we do not know the country ; we bave 
not the least idea where Fort Elk lies; we shall be 
met now and then by other rivers, whicli may be very 
hard to cross, perhaps impossible without making 
long journeys to right or left ; lastl}^ we shall get 
into a wild country where probably there will be no 
Indians, or if there are, they may be a fierce hunting 
race, who will object to our going through their 
district. So you see that though we may save a 
good deal of walking if we can get an idea from 
some settler where the Fort lies, we may meet with 
a great many difficulties such as I have named. On 
the other hand, if we keep tramping on here, we are 
certain to hit the Fort if we can master the troubles 
of the way, while we are among a people who seem 
to live by fishing, and are as friendly as can be." 

" Yes," I said, thoughtfully, as I glanced at where 
the Indians were peaceably catching and drying the 
fish they speared. 

*' Well, what do you say ? I am ready to do 
either — perhaps to break away from the river would 
suit me best, for I should be coming across smaller 
streams such as I could examine for metals. You 
must not fiDrget that I'm a prospector," he added, 
laughingly. 

*' I do not," I said, ''and I should like for you to 
go the way best suited for 3'ourself. But surely you 
could find that way, and reach Fort Elk." 

"I am disposed to lisk it, and yet we should be 
turning away from our supplies." 

'' Yes," I said, for he looked at me questioning!}^ ; " I 
feel quite in despair sometimes about getting along 
this terrible way, but I think we ought to keep to it, 



jy 



"look!" 301 

for those people said "\\e should tind httie settlements 
all the way along. 

"Yes; and wc miglit find oiir^^elves in a queer 
position without food unless we could get a guide, 
so forward's the word/^ 

He nodded to me and went off to the Indian 
camp to make the people a present before we started, 
and as soon as I was alone, Esau hurried up. 

'* Has he been saying anytlung against me ? " 

'^No, of course not, you suspicious fellow/' I cried, 
" Tliere, come aloug and pack up. We s*'art directly. 
I say, Esau, you don't want to go back now ? *' 

He turned sharply, and glanced at the beginning 
of the daik canon, and then said angrily 

'' Needn't jump on a fellow because he didn't get 
along so well as you did. Here you, Quong, wo'ie 
going on." 

*' Velly nea leady/' came back cheerily. 

"Don't seem to mind a bit" p'lumbled Esau "T 

believe he'd go anywhere. tie don't understand 
what daneer is." 



"Ready?" said Gunson, coming back, "I can't 
make anything out of the Indians, but I suppose 
tliere is a way all along here." 

" Those settlers said there was." 

" Then let's try it if we can find our way. We 
can't come upon a worse bit to go along than that 
yesterday, and if we can't get along we must come 
back." 

We were on our way again directly after, Quong's 
load made more heavy by the addition of two 
goodly fjsh, an addition which did not trouble him 
in the least, for he showed them to me smilino^ and 



302 TO THE WEST. 

patting tlieir rounded silvery ^ides as if he had an 
affection for tliem. 

Our way \Yas vciy difficult, the traces of a trail 
being veiy few, and faintly marked. But in spite 
of tlie difficulties, "sve kept on steadily all through 
that day, and with no worse adventures than a few 
falls, witli the accon:ipaniments of bruises and 
scratches, we reached the patch of wood we selected 
for our resting-place that night. 

It was Quong, when in advance, who suggested 
it, by stopping suddenly, lowering his patiently borne 
load, and pointing out its advantages of shelter, 
iirc wood and water, and here we stayed for the 
ui_^ht. 

The next day passed in a similar v/ay, and the 
effect on me of our journey seemed precisely the 
same as on Esau and the others for we reached 
our resting-place fagged, hungry, faint and low 

spirifpd, with Esfin ornmbling horribly and wishing 

he was back on "old Dempster's" stool. Then Quong 
would prepare his fire^ make cakco, boil the kettle, 
cook bacon or salmon, make a good cup of tea, and 
we all ate a tremendous meal, after which the 
beds were made in shelter, probably under the tree 
which produced what Esau called the feathers, tliat 
is the soft boughs. Then our blankets were sjDread 
ready, and we lay about watching the last rays of 
the sunlight on the snowy peaks of the mcuntains, 
or the bright stars, and listened to Gunson while he 
smoked his pipe and told us talcs about his adven- 
tures in the Malay Archipelago, where he went up 
the country in search of gold, or in Australia; and 
as we sat listening, the weary low-spirited feeling 



passed away, \xe giew deej^ly iutcre.sted, and soon 
after lay down to sleep, to Wiike at saniise full of 
lii_^-li spirits, life, and vigour, eai^cr to continue our 
journey up the river. 

Then came day« when we halted at settlers' huts, 

where we were made very welcome for the sake of tlie 
news wc brought; tlien at Indian camps to be regale I 
with fish, and finding these people so friendly that 
we soon forgot to feel any fear of them. Then again 
we went up a side stream here a)id thci'e for a few 
miles, to enable Gunson to try and di^^co\cr metals, 
and though he was always disappointed, Quoiig was 
in ecstasies. 

" Wiiy, lie mubt have got enough gold in that 
bottle of liis to make a we Iding ring as big as 
motlier s old thin one," said Esau, with a chuckle. 
" I say, don't take much to make him hap])y/* 

And all this time the w^eather had been lovelv. 
We had had a few showers, after which the sun shone 

out more biightly than ever, and one night we had 
a tremendous thunderstorm, when, from our shelter 
under a ledge of rock, we could see the flashes of 
lightning darting in every direc ion, while the tlmnder 
rolled eclioing along the valley. But that soon 
passed away, the stars came out as the clouds rolled 
off the sky, and the next day all was as beautiful as 

ever. 

Throe nights after we came to a halt at the mouth 
of a shallow cave, and the daj'' having been very hot 
and wearying we soon dropped off to sleep, from which 
I was aroused in the darkness by feeling a touch, 
and as I opened my ej^es, I heard a curious shufl[ling 
noise, and felt hot breath fan my cheek. 



304 TO THE WEST. 

This was so luomeutarj that I thought I must 
have been dreaming, and turned softly over to go to 
sleep again, for the re^t after the heavy d<iy's work 
was delicious. 

I suppose I must liave dropped off once more, 
and must have been dreamint^ as I was touched 
again ; then the touch was repeated, and in a 
drowsy way I sighed with satisfaction at not hav- 
ing to move myself, but having some one to move 
me, for a great hand readied over me, and drew 
me along a little way, and I dreamed that I was 
tu tabling out of bed and Esau drew nie back in my 
place. 

I lay perfectly still for a time, and then I was 
moved a little more, the bio: hand (lrawin<^ me alom^ 
veiy gently as if I ^^as not tp;it3 in the right position ; 
finally, after getting me straight, giving me a gentle 
thrust before leaving me <|uite at peace. All at once 

T w.is thoi'OU^dily a^'on^ed by n terrifie yell^ nnd I 

started up, but only to be knocked over. There was 
a rush of foet_. followed by a rustling, and crackling 
of bashes, and this sound grew fainter and fainter 
till it died away. 

"What is it? Who shouted?" cried Gunson, 
jumping up. 

'' It was me," cried Esau. 

^* What for ? Who was it ran away ? Here ; 

where is Gordon ? " 

" I'm here," I said. " What's the matter ?" 

*' That's what I want to know," said Gunson. 

*' Was it an Indian, Dean ? " 

" No; it w^as a great pig as big as a bullock ; he'd 

got one hoof on my chest, and was smeUing me with 



o 



"look!" 305 

liis wet snout touching my face when I woke up and 
shouted, and he ran off." 

" Yip;^ eh ? " said Gunson. *' It must have been a 
bear. 

" A bear ! What, touching me like that ? " cried 
Esau, excitedly. 

*'No doubt about it. But it does not matter. 
You frightened it more than it frightened you, and 
it has gone." 

"Ugh!" cried Esau, with a shudder. "Was it 
going to eat me ? " 

" Probably," replied Gunson. 

" What ! " 



" Well, it might have been. You are not bitten ? " 
" I dunno," cried Esau, excitedly. " P'raps I am." 
" Are you scratched or clawed ? " 

"Can't say, sir ; very likely. Oh dear, oh dear, 
what a place to come to ! I can't go to sleep again 
after this. But do you really think it was a pig, sir — 
I mean a bear ? " 

" It must have been. The only other creature 
possible would be a bison or a deer, and it is not 
likely to have been one of them." 

Gunson took his rifle, and I heard the click of the 
lock as he cocked it, to step out of the shelter, and 
look round, but he stopped directly. 

"Where is Quong?" he cried. 

" Me velly safe up here," came in a high-pitched 
voice from somewhere over our heads in the darkness. 

" Kd you see anything ? " cried Gunson. " Was 
it a bear ? " 

" Too dalk see anything," he replied. " Only hear 
velly much wood bleaking." 

u 



JJ 



.S06 TO THK WFST. 

All was quite still now, save Gunson's footsteps as 
he walked about our camp, and the roar of the fall 
ing waters down toward the river where thtj stieam 
near us dropped in a cascade ; and he was soon back. 

" I shall break my neck in the darkness," he said, 
as he joined us. " I can hear nothing, and I have 
nearly gone headlong twice. 

" Do you think it will come back ? " I said, feeling 
no little trepidation. 

" No ; Dean s yell was enough to scare a whole 
zoological garden. But lie down, lads, and finish 
your night's rest. I'll light my pipe and play sentry 
for the remainder of the night." 

*' And I'll sit up with you," I said. 

" No ; go to sleep," he replied, firmly. '' 1 am 
used to this sort of thing." 

" But I want to get used to it," I said. 



"Afraid? 



>> 



This came with a slightly sarcastic tone, which 
made me turn away from him, and go back into the 
shelter without a word. 

'* Come, Esau," I said ; and I wrapped my blanket 
round me, and lay down at once. 

*' It's all very well to say ' Come, Esau,' " grumbled 
that gentleman. " You ain't been half torn to pieces 
by a bear." 

"But you are not hurt, are you ? " 

"How do I know when it's so dark?" he said, 
petulantly. 

" But you could feel." 

" No, I couldn't. I've heard that people who have 
been half killed don't feel any pain at first; and 
there ain't a doctor nowhere.'' 



''look!" 307 

" But, Esau," I whispered, seriously, " has the 



brute hurt you?'' 

" I keep on telling you I don't know. He pawed 
me about and turned me over, and smelt me and 
stood on me once. I say : how dark it is ! " 

" Lie down," I said, *' and try and go to sleep. I 
don't think you can be hurt, or 3^ou would feel some 
pain. I felt the bear touch me too, but I am not 
scratched." 

" Must I lie down ? " 

" Yes ; you would be better." 

" But suppose he came again ? " 

'' Gunson is watchin'^ There is no fear." 

" But I'm sure I can't sleep. It's too horrid to be 
woke up and find wild beasts swarming all over 



you. 

" Yes, it was startling," I said, as I listened to the 
noise he made rollinsf himself in his blanket, and 
mnlcincr fho fir-bonorhs crnokla aa hp tnrnpd ahoiit 

'' I was horribly scared at first, but I don't think I 
mind now." 

"I do," said Esau, with a groan, ''and I never 
pretended to be as brave as you. It's of no use, I 
can't go to sleep." 

« Why, you haven't tried yet," I said, as I began 
to feel satisfied that his injuries were all fancy. 

"No use to try," he said, gloomily. " Fellow can't 
go to sleep expecting every moment to be seized by 
some savage thing and torn to bits." 

" Nonsense ! " I said. " Don't make so much fuss." 

"That's right; jump on me. You don't behave 
half so well to me as I do to you, Mayne Gordon." 

I made no reply to this reproach, but lay gazing 



308 TO TfTE WEST. 

out into the gloom, where after a few minutes I 
heard a faint scratch, saw a line of light, and then 
the blaze of a match sheltered in Gunsou s hands, 
and a flash made as he lit his pipe and threw the 
match away, after which at regular intervals I saw 
the dull glow of the tobacco in the bowl as our 
sentry kept patient watch over us. 

" Esau," I said at last, " do you feel any pain ? " 

There was no reply. 

" Esau, can you feel anything now ? " I said. 

Still no reply, and I began to be startled therp in 
that intense darkness where it took so little to 
excite one's imagination. Had he after all been 
seriously hurt by the bear, and now sunk into a 
state of insensibility ? 

"EsauT* I whispered again, but still there was 
no reply ; so half rising I reached over to touch his 
face, which was comfortably warm, and I heard now 
his regular hard breathing. For a few minutes I 
could not feel satisfied, but by degrees I grew 
convinced Esau was sleeping heavily, and at last 
I lay down too, and dropped off soundly asleep as he. 
How long I had been in the land of dreams I did 
not know till next day, when I found from Gunson 
that it must have been about a couple of hours, and 
then I awoke with a start, and the idea that the 
bear had come back and seized me, till the voice of 
our companion bidding me get up relieved me of 
that dread. 

" What is the matter ? " 

" Look," he cried. 

I was already looking at a blaze of light, and 
listening to a fierce crackling noise. There before 



"LOOK[" 300 

me was one of the great pine-ti-ees with the lower 
]jart burning, and clouds of smoke rolling up. 

*' But how — what was it set it on fire ? '* 

"Ask Quong," said Gunson gruffly, as he stood by 
me with the glow from the fire lighting him up 
from top to toe, and bringing the trees and rocks 
about us into view. 

" Me only put fire light when bear go, leady for 
make water velly hot," said the little Chinaman, 
dolefully; "fire km along and set alight." 

"Yes, you couldn't help it," said Gunson. "The 
dry fir-needles must have caught, and gone on 
smouldering till they reached a branch which 
touched the ground, and then the fire ran along it 
like a flash.'* 

"But can't we put it out?" I cried, excitedly, as 
the boughs of the huge greeu pyramid began to 
catch one after the other. 

^'Pnt it ouff" he said with a half lau^^h " Yes ■ 

send Dean there for the nearest fire engine. There's 
plenty of water. I did try at first while you were 
asleep, and burned myself." 

" But—" 

" Oh, let it burn," he said, carelessly. " It stands 
alone, and a tree more or less docs not signify in 
these regions. A hundred more will spring up from 
the ashes," 

I stood silently gazing at the wondrous sight, as 
the huge fire began more and more to resemble a 
cone of flame. High up abcve the smoke which 
rolled like clouds of gold, and the tongues of fire 
which kept leaping up and up to the high branches, 
there was still a green spire dark and dimly seen 



310 TO THE WEST. 

as it rose to some two hundred and fifty feet above 
"\\liere we stood. But that upper portion was catching 
alight fast now, and the hissing crackle of the 
burning was accomjDanicd by sharp reports and 
flashes, the heat s^rowincc so intense that one had 
to back away, while quite a sliari:) current of cold 
air began to rush past our ears to sweep out and 
fan the flames. 

"What a pity!" I said at last, as I turned to 
Esau, who stood there with his eyes glowing in the 
light, Quong being seated on a stone holding his 
knees, as he crouched together, his yellow forehead 
Avrinklcd, and little black eyes sparkling the while. 

*' Yes, I s'pose it's a pity,'' said Esau, thought- 
fully. " My ! how it burns. 1 s'pose there's tar and 
turpentine and rosin in that big tree ? " 

" Why, Esau," I said suddenly, as a thought struck 
me, " how about the bear ? " 

" Bear ? Where ? " he cried, grasping my arm. 

"Not here," I said \\ith a laugh. "No wild beast 
would come near that fire. I mean how about your 
hurts ? " 

"My hurts?" he said, beg'nning to feel his arms. 
"Oh, I'd forgotten all about them." 

" No fear of its catcliing any other tree," said 
Gunson, retvu'nincj to wdierc we stood after beincj 
away, though I had not missed him. " I've been 
all round it, and there isn't another for twenty 

yards." 

"But it Aviil set lio;ht to them whe^i it falls," I 
said. 

"No, my lad. That tree's enormous at the 
bottom, but the boughs grow smaller and smaller 



"hoOKV 311 

till the top is like a point. Look, the fire is reach- 
ing it now, and it will go on burning till the trunk 
stands up half burned down, and then gradually go 
out, leaving a great pointed stick of charred wood. 
No fear of its falling either upon us. I should have 
been sorry for us to have staited a forest fire, that 
might have burned for weeks/' 

He ceased speaking, and we all stood gazing in 
awe at the magnificent spectacle as the flames 
rushed higher and higher, till from top to bottom 
there before us was a magniiicent cone of roaring 
fire, which fluttered and scintillated, and sent up 
golden clouds of tiny sparks far away into the air, 
while a thin canopy of smoke spread over us, and 
reflected back the glow till the valley far around 
looked almost as light as day, and the green pines 
stood out gilded, though sombre in their shades, and 
the water flashed and sparkled where it rushed 

along. 

It was a wonderful sight, impressing even Quong, 
and for a long time no one spoke. 

It was Gunson who broke the silence. 

" Well, Quong," he cried, " what do you think of 
your work ? " 

" Velly solly," said the httle fellow, dolefully. 

"Ah/' said Gunson, *'it is a bad job. All the 
King of China^s horses and men could not build that 
up again — eh, Gordon ? " 

"No," I said, sadly; for there seemed to me to be 
something pitiful in that grand forest monarch, at 
whose feet we had supped the past night, being 
destroyed. 

" But one of the seeds out of a cone hidden under 



312 TO THE WEST. 

the ground will produce ancther/' he said, "in a 
hundred or two years. And we shan't wait to see 
it, Gordon." 

I looked at him wonderingly. 

"And that's how the world goes on, boy; fresh 
growth makes up for the destruction, and perhaps, 
after all, we have done some future settler a good 
turn by helping to clear the ground for him, ready 
for his home. Now then, will you lie down and 
have another nap ? " 

"What, with that tree burning?" I cried; and 
Esau uttered a grumbling sound expressing dissent, 
in which I fancied I detected words which sounded 
like fire and bears. 

"Well, it is hardly worth while," said Gunson. 
" Look sharp, Quong — tea. We'll get breakfast 
over, and make a fresh start." 

" What, so soon ? " I cried. 

"Soon? Yes— look t" 

He pointed upward, and to my astonishment I 
saw what seemed to be another huge pine-tree on 
fire far away in the distance; but realized directly 
after that it was the icy point of a mountain 
touched by the first rays of the rising sun, long 
before it illumined the lower earth. For morning 
was close at hand, and Quong began piling up sticks 
on our little fire, from which soon after we could 
trace the black path of burnt needles away to where, 
as Gunson said, some branch must have touched the 
ground, as was the case in many directions near. 



CHAPTER XXX. 




WE MEET A STRANGER. 

HE pine tree was still burning as "we s©t 
off just after sunrise that morning, but 
a turn in the yalley soon hid it from our 
siglit. The weather was glorious again, 
and we made good progress, stopping that night at 
the snuggest settler's house we had yet come upon ; 
but we could hear very little about Fort Elk. The 
man, who was living with his wife and son in tkat 

solitary place, had heard of the Fort that it was 
" somewheres up to the norrard." That was all he 
knew, but he gave us a good supper of roast deer 
flesh, and told us that if we looked out we could 
easily get more on our way and when we were 
higher up we might perhaps get a mountain sheep. 

He was curious to know our object in making so 
long a journey, but saved Gunson from any difficulty 
in explanations by supposing that we meant to do 
something in skins, saying that he had heard that 
the company up there did a big trade with the 
Indians in furs. 

We left him and his son the next morning many 
miles from his ranch, for he had insisted upon 



814 TO THE WEST. 

■shouldering a rusty piece ami showing us part of 
our way by a short cu.t which saved us from a 
journey through a cnnon, Avhore the path, he said, 
was " powerful ba 1," and it did seem a change 
when he left us with instructions to keep due north 
till we struck the river again, w^here we should find 
another ranch. For in place of being low down in a 
gorge, made gloomy by the mighty rock-sides and the 
everlasting pines, wo were out on open mountain 

sides, where the wind blew, and the sun beat down 
pretty fiercely. 

We reached the ranch in due time, obtained shelter 
for the night, and went on the next day, finding the 
country more open. I was trudging along side by 
side with Esau, Quong was behind us, and Gunson 
out of sio'ht amoniT: the rocks in front, when we 
were staitied by a sharp crash, followed by an 
echoing roar. 

" What's that ? " said Esau, turning pale. '' Here, 
stop!" he cried. 

But I was already running forward, to come up 
to Gunson, reloading his rifle, and in answer to my 
inquiiy 

" Don't know yet/' he said ; " I fired at a sheep up 
on that rocky slope. There was one standing alone, 
and half a dozen behind him, but I only caught sight 
of their tails as they disappeared up that little valley. 
The smoke kept me from seeing whether I hit one. 
Let's leave the packs here, and go up and see." 

It was a hot and difficult climb, for the valley was 
again steep and contracted here, and when we reached 
the shelf where Gunson said the sheep had stood, 
there was nothing to be seen but a wild chaos of 



WE MEET A STRANGER. 315 

rocks and the narrow rift down wldch a stream 
bounded, and up by whose bed the sheep had 
rushed. 

"Bad job/' said Gunson, after a full half-hour's 
weary search. *' That meat would have tided us on 
for days, and made us independent when we reached 
the next ranch, where the people would have been 
glad of the skin." 

''Shall \\e climb up higher?" I said, in a dis- 
appointed tone. 

"No; IptK get bnck^ and go on. Those two are 

having a comfortable rest," he added, as he pointed 
to where, far below, Esau and Quong were lying 
down by the packs. 

"Hurrah!" I shouted just then, for right away 
down in a pool of the rushing stream I had caught 
sight of something sticking out just above the 
water. 

" What is it ? " cried Gunson, eagerly. 

"The sheep under water. That's a leg sticking 



out. 



>) 



"A piece of wood," he ?aid, contemptuously. 
" No : you are right. It is the sheep." 

We had a difficult climb down to the place, but 
did. not heed that, for in a few minutes we had 
dragged out the prize, which Gunson soon lightened 
in a very business-like way, while I si.2;nalled to the 
others to come up. 

Half an hour after we toiled down again, each 
bearing a quarter of the sheep, the beautiful head 
and skin being left as too heavy. 

Our load was lightened at mid day, and again at 
night, when we camped, and the rapid disappearance 



816 TO THE WEST. 

of that sheep during the next days was startUng, 
for the fresh pure air and exercise created a tre- 
mendous appetite which it was not always easy to 
satisfy. 

But somehow in our most hungry times we 
generally managed to get hold of provisions, either 
from the Indians or some settler. Twice over 

Gunson shot a deer, but the scarcity of bird and 
quadruped was very striking. There were plenty of 
beriies, but they were not very satisfying food to 
hungry lads. 

Esau proved a great help, though, twice during 
the many toilsome days which followed, by his dis- 
coveries in two streams, and I helped him to drive 
some delicious little trout into shallow watei*, where 
they were captured, to Quong's great delight. 

How many days and weeks had passed before we 
were busy by one of the small streams which ran 
down into the river I cannot now remember, for I 
have lost count. It seemed that we had been tramp- 
ing on for a great while, and that it might have 
been last year wJien we left the sea. 

It was long past midday, and the appearance of 
this Jifctle stream ha<l atti'actcd Gunson so that he 
determined to camp by it for the night; and leaving 
Quong and Esau to get a fire and make cakes with 
the last of our flour, he took the gun, and I a light 
pine pole, to see if we could not get something in 
the way of fish or game. I did not say anything, 
but I knew that Gunson meant to try the sands of 
the stream as well for gold. 

After about an hour's walking, and stopping from 

time to time to wash a little of the gravel, and pause 



WE MEET A STRANGEK. 317 

in likely places, I suddenly drew my companion's 
attention to something moving in an open glade 
dotted with small pines and bushes, where the stream 
ran slowly by through quite a lawn like stretch. 

He threw himself down ard I followed his ex- 
ample, watching him as he crawled forward, taking 
advantage of every bush and rock, till be suddenly 
stopped, aimed, there was a puff of white smoke, and 
we both sprang up. 

" No miss this time, Mayne," he said, as I reached 
him. "Look!'' 

Not above eighty yards away lay a beautiful little 
deer, quite motionless, and I forgot the destruction of 
tlie graceful little animal in the longing for a good 
supper that night 

"Too much to carry back, eh?" he said, as he 
finished reloading. 

" Oh, no,'' I cried ; " we must carry it somehow." 
And after the meat was dressed, we divided the load, 
making two packs of it in the halved skin, and then 
began to return, when a part of the stream tempted 
Gunson to make a fresh trial. 

" Disappointing work," he said, as be waded in. 
"Sit down and rest, my lad, fcr a few minutes. I'll 
soon see." 

But he found nothing, and I sat down in the little 
gully watching him, and thinking that the prize he 
sought to find ought to be very big to recompense 
him for the tremendous labour he went throuo-h. 
It was very still and peaceful; and, hot and tired 
as I was with walking, I was turning drowsy, when 
T beard a voice say loudly 

^' I saw the smoke rise quite plainly somewhere 



99 



318 TO THE WEST. 

here ; " and, as I started up, a tall, gray-haired, 
severe -looking, elderly man, in leather hunting-shirt 
and leggings, and wearing a fur cap, stood before rae, 
rifle in hand, while another man was coming up not 
a dozen yards away. 

"Hallo V the first exclaimed, as he glanced from 
me to my companion, saw the cut-up deer, and took in 
Gunson's occupation as it seemed to me in a sharp 
glance of his clear gray eyes. "I thought I was 
right. You fired half an hour ago ? " 

" Yes," said Gunson, quietly, " and hit." 

" Who are you, stranger, and where are you for ? 
said the gray-haired man, in a fiz^m, stern tone of 
voice, while his companion stood back leaning on a 
rifle too, as if waiting to be told to come up. 

''English. Travelling and shooting," said Gunson, 

a little distantly. 

"And prospecting/' said the new comer sharply. 
*' Well^ have you struck gold ? " 

'' No," said Gunson. " Have you ? " 

" J^o ; nor deer either. Not your luck to da} ." 

" Sorry for you, brother spoi'tsman,*' said Gunson, 
rather sneeringly, I thought. " Well, where's your 
shanty ? We sliall be glad to share our game." 

"Where are you making for?" said the stranger, 
looking at me. 

"Fort Elk," I said ; and I saw him raise his eye- 
brows. "Is it very much farther?" 

"Not five English miles," he said, looking at me 
fixedly, 

" Do you hear that, Gunson ? " I cried. " Here, 
let's get back and tell Esau." 

" Not alone then ? " said the stranger. 



WE MEKT A STRANGER. 819 



e< 



No, sir. I have a companion down by the river, 
and there is a Chinaman with us." 

"Any more questions ? " said Gunson, rather 
gruffly; "because if not, perliaps yon'll put us on 
the trail for the nearest cut to the Fort." 

"You can't do better than go back to the river," 
said the stranger. " 111 set you on your way. Mike, 
help him carry the deer meat." 

The man took one of the packages, thrust the 
barrel of his rifle through the deerskin thongs, and 
placed it on his shoulder, ^vhile the new comer asked 
me for my pole, thrust it through the otlier, and 
Gunson and I took an end each, for I would not let 
our guide carry it. 

"Where are you from last ? " said the stranger. 

I waited for Gunson to speak, but as he did not, I 

said that we had tramped up by the river. 

"All the way from the sea, eh ? " said the stranger, 
lookinty me over as I examined him and thono-Jit 

what a strong, keen, clever-looking man he seemed. 

" Yes ; all the way from the sea." 

"And what are you going to do at Fort Elk, eh ? " 

Gunson looked round at him sharply. 

"Well ?" said the stranger, meeting Gunson's look 
firmly. 

"Only going to ask you if you were an American 
from down coast." 

" No^ I am an Englishman like yourself. Why ? " 

"Because you ask questions like a Yankee com- 
mercial traveller — drummers don't they call them ?" 

"Yes, I think so,'* said the stranger, quietly. "I 
always do ask questions when I want to know any- 
thing." 



320 TO THE WE-^T. 

"Good way/' said Gunson, gruffly; and it was very 
plain that they two would not be very good friends. 

" Do you know Mr. Daniel Raydon at the Fort ? " 
I asked, to change the conversation, which was 
growiug ticklish. 

"Oh yeSj I know him." 

*'He is the chief officer there, isn't he?" T con 
tinned eagerly, as I seemed now to see the end of 
my journey. 

"Yes; he's head man, my lad." 

" What sort of a person is he ? " 

''Humph! Welh how am I to describe him? 
Wliat do you mean ? His looks ? " 

" Yes ; and altooether what sorfc of a man is he ? *' 



*'As far as appearance goes, about such a man 
as I am. Stern, determined sort of fellow, my lad; 
accustomed to deal with the Indians. Bit of a 
hunter — naturally from living in these parts; bit 

of a o^arrlener and botanist and naturalist * done a 

little in minerals and metals too," he continued, 
turning to Gunson. *' Sort of man to talk to you, 
sir, as I see you are prospecting — for gold, I 
suppose ? " 

''You can suppose what you like," said Gunson, 
drily. "This is a free country, I believe. I never 
heard that Government interfered with people for 
looking up the place." 

"Oh no; it's free to a certain extent, but we 
settlers who are fixed here like to know what perfect 
strangers are about. 

" Look here," said Gunson, " [ always make a point 
of keeping my business to myself. Do you want to 
quarrel with me ? " 



1) 



WE MEET A STRANGER. 321 

"By no means," said the stranger, smiling. "I 
think the disposition to be quarrelsome is more on 
your side. I merely asked you a few plain questions, 
such as you would have asked me if our positions 
had been reversed. Suppose you had marked down 
a deer, being a resident here, and came out for it 



)j 



and found a stranger 

" Poaching," said Gunson, mockingly. 

" No ; we have no game laws here, sir — had 
bagged your deer, and when you came up to him, 
wivshing to be civil, and offer him the hospitality one 
Englishman should offer to another in this out-of 
the-way corner of the world, he cut up rough with 
you, as I think, on consideration, you must own you 
have done with me. What then ? " 

I glanced from one to the other, ready to appeal 

to Gunson, for he seemed to me to be horribly in 
the wrong. 

There was a great difference in them, and it 
seemed to me to be very marked just then; the 
stranger so tall, commanding, and dignified, in spite 
of his rough hunting dress, his eyes keen and flash- 
ing, and his well-cut features seeming noble by com- 
parison with Gunson's, whose care-lined and dis- 
figured face, joined with his harsh, abrupt way, 
made him quite repellent. 

But just as T was antiripatiug quite an explosion 

of anger, I saw his face change, and grow less lurid. 
He looked frankly in the stranger s face, took off his 
hat, and I felt that it was a gentleman speaking, as, 
in quite an altered tone, he said simply- 

"I beg your pardon. I was quite in the wrong." 

"Hah!" ejaculated the stranger, *'that is enough;" 

X 



322 TO THE WEST. 

and he held out his hand. "There*s a ring of dear 
old England and good society in that, sir. Welcome 
to these wilds. It is a treat to have a visitor who 
can talk about the old country. It's many years 
since I have seen it. And you?" 

" Oh, we were there seven or eight months B'go" 
said Gunson, quietly ; and as we walked on, and our 
new friend plied him with questions about London, 
the Government, and the changes that had taken 
place, always carefully avoiding any allusions to the 
object of our visit to the north west land, it seemed 
to me that I was listening to quite a different man 
to the rough prospector, and I fancied that the 
stran^ijer was noticing that Gunson was not the sort 
of man he seemed. 

It was so pleasant to listen to the converse of 
these two gentlemanly, well-informed speakers, that 
the distance seemed quite short back to where Esau 
was lying down idly thT-owing stones in the river, 
while Quong had the kettle boiling, and, as soon 
as he caught sight of us, came running up to seize 
upon one of the packs of deer-meat, and trot off 

with it. 

''Useful sort of fellow, that,*' said tlie stranger, 
nodding at Quong as he ran on before us. " Good 
cook, I suppose ? " 

"Excellent," replied Gunson. "You had better 
stop and have a bit of dinner with us. He'll have 
a steak ready in a few minutes." 

" With all my heart. Mike, you have some cake 

in your wallet." 

" Yes, sir," said the man respectfully ; and I saw 
Gunson's one eye turn to him sharply. 



WE MEET A STRANGER. 323 

" We can easily walk to the Fort in an hour 
afterwards/' said the stranger. 

"And do you live near ? " I said, eagerly. 

"Yes, very near," he replied, smiling. 

"It's very lucky we met you/' I said, "for we had 
no idea how far we were off. Here, hi ! Esau ! " 
I shouted, as soon as we were \yithin earshot, for he 
was coming towards us now in a slow, hesitating way. 
"This is my companion who has come with me.'' 

*' Friend or brother ? " 

" Friend/' I said ; and I was going to say more, 
but I caught Gunson's eye, and it seemed to suggest 
that I was talking too fast. 

In less than half an hour we were partaking of the 
hot juicy steaks whicli Quong brought round to us 
on the point of his knife, and washing it down with 

hot tea, while the stranger and Gunson chatted away 
about the sport to be had in that part of the country, 
filling my head with eager hopes of partal^'ing therein, 

as I heard of the different kinds of game and deer, 
some of which were of huge size elk and moo^^e as 
high as horses, Avhich were shot in the winter. 

It soon became evident that our new acquaintance 
was a keen sportsman, but lie talked in quite an easy 
modest way of what he lind done, and at last I felt 
obliged to join in, telling of our adventures with the 
benrs^ nnd nsking if he hnd soon or sliot nny 

"Several," he said. ''Many, I may say, but of 
course spread over a long ^tiy here. I can show 
you their heads and skins. I generally save them. 
That man Michael Gray is a clever hunter, and an 
admirable skin dresser." 

" Are the bears very dangercus ? " 



324 TO THE WEST. 



" Only under certain circumstances, my lad. There 
are several kinds here, varying very little. I mean 
beginning with the smallest ; he strongly resembles 
the next larger, and he again the one larger still, 
and so on, till we get up to the cinnamon, and from 
him to the great grizzly, who is a fierce beast best 
avoided. As for the others, they are stupid, inoffen- 
sive creatures, whose great aim in life is to get out 
of man's way, and who will not interfere with him or 
fight if they are left alone. Now then, what do you 
say to going on ? '* 

" By all means," said Gunson ; and we rose, to my 
regret, for I had enjoyed the meal and rest, and the 
huntincr narratives were delici^htful. 

We were all ready for starting, and I shouldered 
one pack, Quong loading himself up with the deer- 
meat, and our new friend and his follower insisting 
upon helping to share our burden, while I noticed that 
Mike, as he was called, kicked the burning embers 
about in all directions so as to extinmiish the fire. 

" What is that for ? " said our new companion, in- 
terpreting my looks ; " that is what every hunter or 
traveller should do. Never leave a fire. There is 
abundance of wood huge forests all about, but none 
that ought to be destroyed. The pine-trees burn 
fiercely." 

T nodded, for I knew. 

" And, once a forest is set on fire, we never know 
where it may end." 

We walked on, chatting about the beauty of the 
country, which every minute grew more open ; and I 
was listening full of interest, when Esau gave my 
jacket a tug. 



WE MEET A STRANGER, 825 

" I say, who is he ? '' caine in a whisper. 
"Don't kno\s\ Going to show us the way to the 
Fort/' 

" Is it much farther ? " 

" Oh no," I whispered back ; " only a mile or 



two. 



3J 



" Thank goodness," murmured Esau ; " I am getting 

so tired." 

It proved to be only about a mile and a half, or, as 
I ought to call it in that country of no roads and 
many climbs and descents, about three-quarters of 
an hour's walk, before we came upon a wide, open 
spot, dotted with trees like a park, through which the 
river ran, making a sharp elbow, at the corner of 
which there was what seemed to be a high fence, 
with square wooden buildings at two of the corners. 
These took my attention directly, for they looked 
like stron g, squ are, w^ood en towers, trying to be 

like the, Ri(]fs of a man of-war^ innsmiioh as they 

were fitted with portholes, out of which projected 
the muzzles of small cannon. I could see that there 
was a rough trail leading up to a grim gateway in 
the square fence, and that the nearer we got to the 
place, the bigger and stronger that fence looked, and 
that inside was quite a large square with huts and 
other buildings, and what setmed to be a garden, 
beside which there were cultivated fields with corn 
growing and potatoes, outside. 

" So that's Fort Elk, is it 1 " said Gunson, thought- 
fully. " Why, I suppose you could stand quite a 
siege there from the Indians." 

" We could, and have done so before now." 
" But what about fire ? " continued Gunson. 



326 TO THE WEST. 

** That is our worst enemy," said the stranger, as 
he struck the rough beaten path. 

'' But where is your garrison ? " said Gunson. 

''Oh, busy about in the stores and garden. We 
are not at war with any of the people about, so 
there is no occasion to play at soldiers now." 

" But where is your ranch ? " I said, as we approached 
the gate. 

" Oh, inside the fence, of course." 

" Then you live in the Fort ? '' I said, looking at 
him curiously, for a suspicion was beginning to rise 
in my breast, as we came right up to the great pali- 
sade, and I lealized how much bigger it all was 
than it had seemed, 

'' Yes," he replied, smiling, " I live in the Fort the 
Hudson's Bay Company's trading store and station ; 
and I bid you all a hearty welcome." 

'* May I know whom we have to thank before you 
show my young friend Goi^don here to the chief's 
place. You ought to go to him first, Gordon, my 

lad." 

"Yes, that is quite right," said our friend, smiling ; 
"but you can do that v/itliout trouble, for my name 
is Raydon. I am the chief officer here." 

I stopped short and stared, and Esau's jaw seemed 
to drop so as to show the whole interior of his 
moutli. 



^^, 




CHAPTER XXXI. 



AN AWAKEMXG. 




FTEH the first fit of startling I dout 
think I was much surprised, for some- 
thing seemed to have suggested that 

this might be Mrs. John's brother. 

He smiled at us, as if amused, and led the way to 
one of the wooden buildings, where wood was burn- 
ing in a stone fire place. 

'• This is our travellers' hotel," he said, as we 
entered the bare-looking room, which was beautifully 
clean. "Don't trouble about cooking or preparing 
anything, for you are my guests. There is a 
sleeping place here." 

He walked across to a door at one corner, and 
showed me another fair sized place, bare as the first, 
but beautifully white and clean, and with son:ie of 
the boards looking quite ornamental from the fine 
grain. There was a row of sleeping-bunks and 
plenty of water ready, and plain and rough as every- 
thing was, it seemed princely to the style of sleep- 
ing accommodation we had been accustomed to for 
so long. 



328 TO THE WFST. 

He nodded and left us, and we had to explain to 
Quong that he was not to cook and prepare our 
evening meal, an explanation which fui the fiiht 
time made the little yellow faced fellow look dis- 
coatented. 

"You all velly angly ? What Quong been do ? " 

"Nothing at all. Mr. RayJons people are going 
to send us our supper," 

" Don t like — don't like/' he said, shaking his head. 
'* All angly. Quong no make good blead ? " 

" Yes ; everything has been capital," I said. 
" Don t you understand ? " 

"No; can^t undlestan. Quong velly solly. Go 
now ? " 

''No, no. Stop." 

He shook his head and went and sat doleful-look- 
ing and unhappy in one corner ; out of which he had 
to be almost dragged at last to partake of the even- 
ing meal Mr. Raydon sent in for us, absolutely 
refusing to join us, and -vAaiting patientl}'' till we had 
done. 

There was capital bread, plenty of tea with milk 
and sugar, cold ham, and hot slices of the deer-meat 
we had brought with us, and when we had finished 
and set Quong to his supper, Gunson went to the 
door to smoke his pipe, while Esau came to me 
smiling. 

" Rather lonely sort of place/' he said, " but it will 
do, eh ? " 

" Oh yes, if Mr. Raydon is wiUing for us to stay." 

" Eh ? Why, of course he will be, won t he ? I say, 
though, what lovely ham ! " 

" What's the matter with Quong ? " I said, for the 



AN AWAKENING. 329 

little fellow was muttering and grumbling as he sat 
on the wooden bench at the well scrubbed table. 
I went to him, and asked what was wrong. 

"Allee dleadful," he said. '* No cookee meat 
plopelly. No makee tea plopelly. Blead bad." 

"Why, I'm sure it isn't," I said, crumbling off a 
piece to taste. 

" Yes ; allee bad. No bake blead to-day. Blead 
high. 

" High ? " I said ; " you mean stale ? " 

"Yes; stale high. Keep blead too long. Not 
good to eat." 

"Why, Quong," I cried; "youVe grumbling be- 
cause somebody else cooked and baked," and I burst 
out laucjhincf. 

The little fellow jumped up with his yellow fore- 
head all wrinkles and his eyes flashing and twinkling 
comically with resentment. But as I still laughed at 
him, the creases began to disappear from his face, 
and the angi'y look to depart, till he too smiled up 
at me. 

" You velly funny," he said. " Laugh at me.^' 

" Well, you made me by grumbling for nothing." 

" Qiiong cook well better alJee this ? Cookee 
ploply." 

"Yes; everything you have done has been delicious. 
Here, go on with your supper." 

" Quong cook bleakfast ? " 

" Yes; ril ask Mr. Raydon to let you. Here, go 
on." 

This pacified the little fellow, and he finished his 
meal quickly. He was busy clearing up when Mr. 

Raydon came in, and I saw him glance sharply at 



330 TO THE WEST. 

the busy little fellow, whose tail was whisking about 
in all directions as he bobbed here and there, just as 
if he not been walking all day. 

" Had a good supper ? " said Mr. Raydon. " That's 
right. Now then come to my office, and let us have 
a talk." 

I followed him with some trepidation, Esau coming 
on nervously behind ; and as we went outside, and 
then alono- to another buildinof, catchincr sij^jht of men 
and women at ditferent places about the enclosure, 
our host weut on to where I now saw that Gunson 
was waiting for us by a wooden house that had some 
show of comfoit. 

''Come in," said our host, and he pointed to 
roughly-made, strong chairs, while he seated himself 
behind a deal desk. 

The walls were covered with weapons, and heads 
and horns of the various animals that I piesumed 
had fallen to his ritie were nailed up here and there, 
the white deal lloor being nearly covered with skin 
rugs. These vaiious objects of interest kept my eyes 
busy for a few moments, and then I was called back 
to my position by Mr. Raydon's voice, as he addressed 
Gunson. 

"You are quite welcome," he was saying, "and I 
dare say I could give you a little shooting if you 
were disposed to stay." 

" No," said Gunson, " I thank you ; but I have 
finished one part of my ta^k here. I am not going 
of course to make any secret of my mission. I am 
a prospector." 



" Yes. 



JJ 



" It was my fortune to come out with these lads, 



AN AWAKENING. 331 

and when I heard that they were journeying up the 
river, I determined to get up to the higher waters by 
the same route as tliey did for the sake of helping 
them. " 

" Then you would not have come this way, Mr. 
Gunson VI said. 

'* No, my lad," he replied, smiling. " I should 
have struck up one of the side rivers sooner.** 

" Oh ! " I ejaculated. 

'* For it seemed to me that it was utter madness 

for two boys like these to attempt the journey alone 

in perfect ignorance of what they had uudertaken." 

" And you made up 3'our mind to see them 
throuoh ? " 

" I did, for they would never have done it alone." 

'' Indeed we should," I said, quickly. 

Gunson laughed, leaned f 01 ward, and patted me 
on the sliouldcr. 

"No, no, Mayne, my lac," he said kindly. 
" There's all the pluck the English spirit in you ; 
but theie was more than you could have done by 
yourselves. You would have struggled on, but Master 
Dean here would have broken down loner enougch 
ago, and wanted to go back home to his mother/' 

" How could I have wanted to go back home to 
mother when she ain't at home ? " ciied Esau, angrily. 

" Well, to have gone back," said Gunson. " There, 
I am in real earnest, my lads. It Avas more than 
you could have done." 

** But we should have peisevered," I said, warmly. 

"And failed, as better men have done. Besides, 
there weie the Indians, my lad. They always seemed 
very peaceable towards us, but you had a well armed 



332 TO THE WEST. 

man with you ; and it may have made some differ- 
ence. There, I don't ^Yant to rob you of any credit 
you deserve, and I tell Mr. Raydon here before you 
that I have derived no littk assistance from you 
both, and enjoyed my journey all the better for your 
company. What do you say, Mr. Eaydon — would 

they have found their way up here alone ? " 

" In time, perhaps," he replied ; *' if they had met 
with other people mnking tlie trip they might liave 
got here. Certainly not alone, and it would have 
been madness to have attempted it. It has been a 
mad project altogether." 

Gunson looked at me and smiled. 

**But there, you have reached your goal safe and 
sound, and to morrow morning we'll shake hands and 
say good-bye." 

"Please understand, Mr. Gunson," said our host, 
quietly, '' that you have no occasion to hurry." 

'"I beg your pardon/' replied Gunson; "yon are 

wrong. Time is gliding on, sir. I have spent 
years already in my quest and have no time to 

spare." 

"The quest of wealth V said Mr. Raydon, rather 
sarcastically. 

"Yes, sir; the quest of wealth to redeem the past. 
You do not know my early life, and I'm not going to 
tell of it." 

" I only know enough to prove to me that Mr. 
Gunson was educated as an English gentleman." 

"And is now the rough prospector you see," 
replied Gunson. " There, sir, oue lives for the future, 
not the past. To-morrow morning, thanking you 
warmly for your hospitality, I start; and I ask you 



AN AWAKENING. 3^53 

to give my young friends here what you have offered 
so generously to me." 

'* Your Chinese servaht going with you, of course. 
You said ' I start.' " 

'* My Chinese servant ! " said Gunson, laughing. " I 
keep no servants. The poor fellow attached himself 
to us, and has worked for us patiently ever since. 
He is one of the poor patient Celestials, hunting for 
gold, and if ever he scrapes together fifty pounds' 
worth he will account himself rich." 

''And you?" 

"Ah, my desires are far higher," said Gunson, 
laughing. " Now, if you will excuse me. Til go out- 
side and enjoy a pipe in this delicious evening air." 

" Let me offer you a cigar, Mr. Gunson," said our 
host. '* I have a few good ones for my visitors." 

"Thanks, no. I'll keep to my pipe till better 
times come. Now, my lads, it is your turn to have 

yonr ohnt with our host " 

He rose. 

" One moment, Mr. Gunson," said ' Mr. Raydon. 
" There is a powder magazine in the enclosuie," 

"Yes; I caught sight of it," was the reply. "I 
shall not drop any matches near." 

I saw our host watch him very thoughtfully as he 
went out of the office. Then turning to us sharply 
he looked from one to the other, his clear eyes 
seeming to search us in a way that was far from 
encouraerinof. 

" Now, young fellows," he said, " I need not ask 
your names : Mayne Gordon and Esau Dean. I 
have been expecting you." 

" Expecting us, sir ? " I said. 



334 TO THE WEST. 

"Of course. Because you have been six months 
coming ; a letter would not be all this while. I 
have known of your proposed visit for some time, 
though I tell you frankly that when I read my 
thoughtless, inconsistent brother in-]aw's letter, I 
never expected to see you here. You have been very 
lucky, that's all" 

'* If you mean Mr. John Dempster is thoughtless 
and inconsistent, sir," I said warmly, '' I must speak. 
He is all that is kind, thoughtful, and gentlemanly, 
and he is the best almost the only — friend I have 
in the world." 

" What, sir ? Isn't it thoughtless and inconsistent 
of a man to send two raw boys nearly all round the 
world on such a mad journey as this ? A thoughtful 
man would say the person who planned it was 
a fool." 

" No thoughtful man who knew Mr. John Demp- 
ster would ^peak of him likp that, sir," T said, 
angrily. 

''Why you mioht juht as well say so of some one 
wlio set him and poor Mrs. John to travel thousands 
of miles the other ^^ay here," cried Esau, coming to 
my help. 

Means that I am a fool ! " said our host, sharply, 
as he turned on Esau. "Here, you hold your tongue, 
sir^ till your turn comes." 



a 



I saw Esau shrink, and Mr. Raydon went on 

*' I sent for my sister to come, because I believed 

the journey would be her salvation, as to her health, 

and because I wanted to end her sad life of penury. 

Your best friend, Mr. Gordon, has not behaved well 

to her." 



AN AWAKEXTNG. 335 

"Why they are as happy and affectionate as can 
be," I said, " You don't know." 

*' I knew that for twenty years he has been a 
dreamer, growing poorer, and wearing out her hfe 
with anxiety, my lad, and I wanted to get them here, 
where I can start them in a new life. He is a good 
fellow in his way, but weak and helpless as to getting 
on in the world. If I lead him, I believe it will be 
different. But enough of that. Here is my com- 
plaint. As soon as, after long and careful thought, I 
decided to bring them here, and send them the funds 
for the purpose, my thoughtful brother-in law writes 
me word that they are coming and that he has sent 
me two lads, friends of his, to take under my chaige, 
and do the best I can for them. Why, sir, it came 
upon me like a thunderclap." 

All the high spirits and hopefulness at our journey 
being successfully ended, oozed away, and a despair- 
ing; sensation came over me that was horrible. Tl en 
my pride came to my help, and I spoke out. 

"I am very sorry, sir," I cried, "and I will not 
impose on your kindness. To moirow morning Esau 
Dean and I will make a fresh start." 

" What start ? " he said, harsljly, 

" Perhaps go with Mr. Gunson, j^rospccting." 

"Out of the question, sir. More madness." 

"Then we'll go to work." 

" What at ? " 

'* For some settler. We are both young, and 
willing." 

"I should just think we are," cried Esau, shnrpY- 

" Silence I Hold your tongue, please." 

Esau subsided. 



S36 TO THE WEST. 

" Where are you going to find your settler ? Those 
here have only enough work for themselves." 

*' But other people have got on." 

" Where you two could not, sir. You two boys 
think it all easy enough, but you are not beasts of 
the field, to be able to pick up a living in this wild 
solitary land. Do you think you can join some tribe, 
and become young Indian chiefs ? Rubbish. Find 
gold ? What's the use of it hundreds of miles away 
from places where it can be sold. Play Robinson 
Crusoe in the woods ? Bah ! Where is your ship to 
go to for stores ? Why, you pair of silly ignorant 
young donkeys, do you know what your projects 
would end in ? " 

*' Success, sir; fighting our own way in life," I 
cried, proudly. 

*'For the carrion birds/' he said, grimly; "good 
meals for them, and later on some hunter finding a 

couple of whitpnpd skelp-tons, ^y^^g beneath a great 

sheltering pine/' 

"Oh, I say I" cried Esau; ''don't, don't talk hke 
that." 

''I am compelled to, my lads, so as to get some 
common manly sense in your heads." 

'* Here, I say, Mayne Gordon," cried Esau, rising ; 
*' let's go back at once." 

I rose too, slowly and thoughtfully, waiting to 
speak, but unable to find suitable words. I was 
cruelly hurt and surprised at the rough reception I 
had met with, for I had at least expected to be made 
welcome for Mrs. John's sake. At the same time 
though, much as it pained me to hear Mr. John 
spoken of so harshly, I began to see dimly that what 



AN AWAKENING. 337 

Mr. Eaydon said was right, and that it had been a 
wild idea for us two lads to make such a journey in 
so speculative a manner. But before I had made 
up my mind what to say, and while I was standing 
there hesitating, Mr. Raydon began again, in a 
sharp authoritative tone. 

" What have you lads been ? " he said. 

" Writers — clerks in an office," said Esau, glumly. 

"Hah! yes: about the most unsuitable avocation 
for any one coming out here. You did not expect 
to find a post at a desk, I suppose ? " 

'' No," said Esau, gloomily " I meant to build 
myself a house, and stu*t a farm." 

"How?" said Mr. Raj'^don, with a contemptuous 
laugh. 

"Dunno," said Esau. 

"Do you understand faiming?" 

"No, sir, but I'm going to Jearn." 

" W^here ? at what farm ? What do you know about 
crops? Why, I don't suppose you could grow a 
potato. Did you ever do any gardening ? " 

" Only grown mustard and cress, sir, in a box." 

Mr. Raydon laughed aloud. 

" And you, Mayne Gordon," he said ; " do you 
understand stock raising and sheep ? " 

I shook my head sally. 

" Can you ride ? " 

" Oh yes," I cried, as I recalled the days when I 
had about as wild a little Welsh pony as ever boy 
sat. 

" Come, that's something ; but you can't ride 
without a horse," 

" No, sir." 



f( 



338 TO THE WEST. 

"And have 3^ou any capital to buy land, and 
stock it ? " 

*' Only a few pounds left, sir." 

"Oh, you have a few pounds. Well, yours seems 
a lively position, and I suppose you both see that 
you have very little chance of getting on.'* 

"Oh, I don't know, sir," said Esau. " WeVe seen 
lots of places where we could build a hut to begin 
with, and get on by degrees." 

Your eyes want opening a little wider, my lad. 

Suppose you took up one of the beautiful patches 
of land you saw near the river." 

"Yes, sir, quite close, where we could catch 
salmon same as the Indians do, and dry them. I 
don't see if the Indians can live why we couldn't." 

" For the simple reason that you are not Indians 
savages, my lad. Do you know that if you did as 
you propose, some night you would have to climb 
for your life, and cling in the branches of a huge 
pine, while the flooded river swept away your hut." 

"Don't sweep away your huts," said Esau, sulkily. 

" Because they are two hundred feet above the 
river. Well, what are you going to do ? " 

" Start back again, sir, at once," I replied. 

" And then ? " 

" Try to get work somewhere." 

" And what am T to sny 1o my sistor ond her 

husband when they come ? " 

" That we found out we had made a mistake, sir, 

and had set to Avork at once to try and remedy it." 
" You will sleep here to-night though, of course ? " 
I looked at Esau, and his eyes flashed back my 

opinion. 



y> 



AN AWAKENING, .S3D 

" No sir," I said. " We thank you for what you 
have done, but wg shall start back directly, and sleep 
where we made our camp in the middle of the day." 

"Don't be hasty, my lad/' said our host. "It's 
wise sometimes to sleep on a determination." 

" It can't be here, sir/' I said bitterly, " so good- 
bye, and thank you. Come, Esau, we can get on for 
a couple of hours before it is quite dark." 

"All right," said Esau, sturdily ; " and we can find 
our way back if we didn't know it coming. 

" Well, perhaps you are right/' said Mr, Raydon ; 
"but of course you understand that you are going 
back alone. Mr. Gunson will be on his way into the 
mountains, and I dare say that China boy will follow 
him/' 

"I suppose he will, sir," I said. 

" Better sleep on it, my lad. 

" No, sir/' I said, firmly. " I would rather not." 

"Too proud to accept the liospitality of the man 
who has told you such home-truths ? " 

"Yes, sir; but more so to stay where I feel that 
we are not welcome; 



» 



ft 



"But you are welcome, my lads, as visitors. Is 
not your friend and leader very unreasonable, young 
man ? " he continued, turning suddenly to Esau ; 
and I listened eagerly in dread, lest he should be 

woTi over to nsk for shelter for the night. 

" Not a bit," said Esau, with a scowl. " He's all 
right, and knows what's best, and always did. If it 
hadn't been for him I should have been stupid 
enough to have gone for a soldier.*' 

" Indeed ! " 

*' Yes, indeed I " cried Esau ; '' and I tried all I 



340 TO TEE WEST. 

could to get him to go too, only he knew better. 
Now then, Mr. Gordon, I'm 'bout tired of talking. 
When you're ready, I am." 

He moved toward the door and I followed him, 
having no words to say for the moment; but as I 
reached the door they came, and I faced around to 
see Mr. Raydon's clear eyes fixed upon me. 

"Good bye, sir," I said, "and thank you. When 
Mr. John and dear Mrs. John come, don't scold them 
and talk to them as you have to me. It would 
only upset her, and she is sure to be still very 
delicate. Tell them I have gone to make a start 
for myself, and as soon as I am doing well I shall 
try and write to her. Good-bye.'' 

" Good-bye," said Esau, defiantly ; and he put his 
hands in his pockets, began to whistle, and turned 

to me, to point to the head of a mountain sheep 

with enormous curled horns. 

"Pretty good lond for a thing to carry/' he said, 
as we reached the door. 

'' Stop ! " 

That word seemed to cut its way into our brains, 
it sounded so fierce and sharp, and its effect was to 
make us both face round wonderhigly^ and look 
inquiringly at the speaker. 

"I should have thought, sir, that it would have 
been more decent if you had offered to shake hands 
with your host before you went," 

*'I beg your pardon, sir," I said, holding out my 
hand. " Good night — good bye 1" 

His large firm long fingers closed tightly on mine, 
and held my hand prisoned so hardly that he gave 
me a good deal of pain. 



« 



AN AWAKENING. 341 

"One minute, my lad," he said. "Your father 
and mother were both English, were they not?" 

The mention of them made me wince. 

" Both dead, I think my sister said ? " 

'* Yes/' I said huskily, and I tried to drag my hand 
away, but he held it fast. 

So you are true English ? " he said ; " and a pretty 
opinion you have of your fellow countryman." 

"I — I don't understand you, sir." 

" To think after you have struggled up here so 
pluckily, and in so manly a way, lie would be such 
an inhuman brute as to let you go." 

** Mr. Raydon ! " I cried, huskily. 

"And your friend, my lad, I hope, for my sister's 
sake and your own too, if you justify the impression 
you have made. There, you^ came to me quite a 
stranger, and I wanted to see whether you had 
the manliness and courage to refuse to stay, and I 
know that you have both, and would have gone 
back. Come," he said, pressing my hand warmly, 
*'let what has passed during the past few minutes 
go. Sit here for a bit, both of you. To-morrow 
we'll have a chat over what is to be done." 

He smiled at me, gave Esau a nod, and went out. 

We neither of us spoke, but looked across at each 
other in the softening light, till suddenly Esau 

turned sharply ro]7nd, and went and stood looking 

out of the window, while I sank down on a stool, 
turned my back to my companion, folded my arms 
on a desk, and laid my head thereon. 



CHAPTER XXXIL 




WAS 1 DKiilAMlJN (i ? 

UITE an hour must have passed, and it 
had grown dark in that room, where the 
heads of moose, elk, bear, and mountain 
sheep looked down upon us from the 
walls, and the old clock had it all its own way, tick- 
tack. For neither of us spoke; I confess that I 
dared not. Perhaps it was childish to feel so upset; 
perhaps it was natural, for I had been over wrought, 
and the pain I had suffered was more than I could 
bear. 

Esau, too, was overcome, I was sure ; but it always 
after remained a point of honour with us never to 
allude to the proceedings of that night when we 
remained there back to back without uttering a 
word, and, till we heard steps, without moving. 
Then we both started round as if guilty of something 
of which we were ashamed. But the steps passed 
the door, and they did not sound like those of Mr. 
Raydon ; and once more we waited for his return. 

It grew darker and darker, and as I slowly let 
my eyes wander about the walls, there on one side 
was the long, melancholy-looking head of a moose, 



WAS I DREAJriNG ? 343 

with its broad, far-spreading horns, seeming to gaze 
at me dolefully, and on the other I could see the 
open jaws and grinning white fangs of a grizzly 
bear, apparently coming out of the gloom to attack 
me, while the deer's heads about were looking on to 
see what would be the result. The place was all 
very strange, and the silence began to be painful, 
for only at intervals was there some distant step. 

At last, though, there came a loud, fierce barking, 
and it was quite inspiriting to hear so familiar a 
sound. This made Esau take a long breath as if 
he felt relieved, and it unlocked his tongue at once. 

"Hahl" he said; "seems quite natural like to 
hear a dog bark. Wonder what he is? Bet six- 
pence he's a collie. Yes, hark at him. That's a 
collie's baik, I know." 

We sat listening to the barking till it ceased, and 
then Esau said — 

"Did seem too hard, didn't it? But somehow I 
couldn't help feeling all the time that he wouldn't 
serve us so bad as that. So different like to Mrs. 
John, eh?" 

" Hush ! Here he comes back." 

For there was a firm heavy step that was like a 
march, and the door was thrown open. 

"Ah, my lads, all in the dark? I had forgotten 



thp licrht. 



)7 



He struck a match, and lit a large oil lamp, and 
sent a bright pleasant glow through the place, which, 
from looking weird and strange, now had a warm 
and home like aspect. 

"You'll like to get to bed soon. Pretty tired, I 
expect. I am too, We are early people here. Early 



344 TO THE WEST. 

to bed and early to rise ; you know the rest of tlie 
proverb. Youll sleep in the strangers' place to- 
night; to morroAV well see what we can do. Mine 
is a bachelor home, but we have women here. 
Some of my men ha^ wives, but they are Indian. 
Rather a wild place to bring my sister to — eh, 
Mayne ? " 

Then without giving me time to speak 

" Come along," he said. " I told Mr. Gunson that 
I would fetch you." 

We followed him out, and I wanted to thank 
him ; but I could not then, and he seemed to know 
it, for he kept on chatting to us as we went along 
one side of the enclosed square, pointing out how 
clear the sky was, and how full of promise for the 
next day. Then, as we reached the long low building 
where we had had our meal, he threw open the 
door^ and stood back for us to enter. 

"Good-night, Mayne," he said. 

''Good-night, sir," I replied, rather huskily, and I 
clung to his hand a little as he held it out. 

" Good night, Dean," he continued, and turning 
sharply off he sauntered away back towards his 
quarters. 

"Might ha' shook hands with me too," said 
Esau, sullenly. "Didn't offend him too much, did 

" No, no, don t say any more about it," I whispered. 

Then we entered, to find Gunson seated on a 
rough stool by the fire smoking his pipe, or pretend- 
ing to, for I saw no smoke, and the red glow from 
the embers lit up his face strangely. 

" Ah, boys," he said, starting up from his musings ; 



WAS r DREAMTNG? 345 

"there you are. Well, you have dropped into snug 
quarters. Bed-time, isn't it ? " 

" I suppose so," I said sadly 

" Hallo ! Not cheery that ! " 

"Are you sfcill thinking of going, Mr. Gunson?'* 
I said. 

"Yes; at sunrise to-morrow morning, so if you 
want to see me off, you must take down your shutters 
early." 

" I am sorry." 

" I am glad," he cried — " that you are sorry. 
Been a pleasant trip up, my lad, and I dare say we 
shall meet again some day. We will, if I can 
manage it." 

" I say, where's old Quong ? * said Esau, suddenly. 

" Asleep this hour, in the corner there." 

"You want Quong — flesh tea — make blead 
now ? " 

*'No, no; go to sleep," said Gunson, laughing. 
Allee light. I get up and makee fi' keep bun ; 
no let fi' go out." 

He coiled up again under his blanket, and we sat 
some little time in silence before Gunson rose. 

*' Good-night, boys/' he said ; and he went to the 
rough sleeping place he had chosen. 

"S'pose we had better go too/' said Esau, after 
we had sat looking at the fire a few minutes in 
silence. 

" Tm ready," I said quickly, and we went to our 
places, where I lay listening to the hard breathing 
of my companions, for sleep would not come. All 
was so new and strange. The fire had sunk 
down into a faint glow which brightened now and 



£< 



846 TO THE WEST. 

then as a light breeze swept by the house, and then 
sank down again, making the fireplace look ruddy, 
while all the rest of the place was intensely dark. 
Then all grew blacker still, and I was listening to 
Mr. John Dempster's hopeful words about meeting 
me at his brother-in-law's home, and — 

I was staring hard at the fire again, awake and 
fully aware that I had been fast asleep, and that 
something was wrong. The door was wide open, 
I was sure of it, for I could see the square opening 
lit up with brilliant stars, and to add to my certainty, 
the embers of the wood fire, which had sunk lower 
and lower, were glowing again, as the soft air from 
the door swept over them, in a curious phosphorescent 
way. 

I listened, and heard that the others were sleeping 
heavily, and as I gazed at the door I saw some of 
the stars blotted out by something moving, while 
almost at the same instant a faint sound made me 
glance toward the fire, where for a moment I saw 
against the faint glow the shape of some animal. 
A panting sound ; it was a wolf I was sure, and 
I lay there paral3''zed with dread, as I heard the soft 
pit pat of the animal's feet, and directly after a move- 
ment that did not seem to be that of an animal. 

I was right in that ; for the fire glowed up, and 
I could see that it was a man standing close by now^ 
whose dress indicated that he must be an Indian, 
for I just made out the edge of a hunting shirt, and 
I saw that he wore leggings. 

What ought I to do ? I thought if I shouted to 
spread the alarm it might mean a sudden quick 
attack, perhaps death at once for me, while the 



WAS I DREAMING? 347 

others would be unable to defend themselves in the 
dark. The cold perspiration oozed from my face, 
and I felt a sensation as if something was moving 
the roots of my hair. 

At last when the agony gi-ew so intense that I 
felt I must shout for help, the soft pit-pat of the 
animal's feet passed by me again, and was followed 
by the sound of the man moving his moccasined feet, 
hardly heard upon the boarded floor, and the stars 
were completely blotted out by the closing door. 

I started again, for there was a quick rustling 
sound now from my left, and something passed me 
and made for the fire. Then came relief, for there 
was no doubt this time — it was Quong softly laying 
fresh pieces of wood on the embers to keep the 
fire going till morning. 

I lay back thankfully, determined to speak to him 
as he came back, and ask him if he had heard a 
noise. But I did not; he was so long in coming; 
and when I did speak it was to Gunson, who was 
getting up, and the gray light of morning was now 
filling the room, battling with the glowing fire. 

For I had been asleep after all, and I began to 
ask myself whetlier I had dreamed about the Indian 
and the wolf. 




J 



CHAPTER XXXIII, 



LEAVE-TAKING. 




FEW minutes after I saw how darkness 
and fancy can combine to startle one 
who wakes suddenly from sleep, for the 
man who had been Mr, Raydon's com- 
panion on the previous day suddenly made his ap- 
pearance silently at the door and walked in, his 
deerskin moccasins making no sound as he came 
towards us. He was followed by a great fierce- 
looking dog, about whose neck was a formidable ruff 
of loose hair, and as he trotted towards me I saw in 
them the Indian and the wolf of my scare. 

"Morning," said the man, quietly; " needn^t ask 
you how you slept. I came ia late to see if the fire 
was all right, and you were all fast. Here, Rough 
quiet ! Better make friends with him at once,'* he 
continued, turning to me. 

For, after sniffing at Gunson, and Esau, who got 
out of his way as soon as possible, the dog turned 
his attentions to nie, smelling me all round, as if 
to try whether I was good to eat, and then uttering 
a low deep growl, to indicate, I suppose, that he 
was satisfied that I was a stransfer. 



LEAVE TAKING. 349 

"Well," I said, laying my hand upon his head, 
feeling nervous tliough not showing it, "are we to 
be friends ? " 

There was a deeper growl and two fierce eyes 
glared up at me, while I fully expected that my 
hand would be seized. Then there was a slight 
agitation of the great fluffy tail, which began 
to swing slowly from side to side, and before I 
knew what was about to happen the great beast 
rose up, planted its paws upon my shoulders, 
threw up its muzzle, and uttered a deep toned 
bay. 

** That's all right," said the man; "you and he 
will be good friends now. Can I do anything for 
you ? Start this morning, don t you ? " 

''Yes," said Gunson, "I'm off directly/' 

" Right ; my wife will bring you some breakfast. 

Come along." 

He wenf to the door, and the great dog followed 

bira with his muzzle down ; but as soon as he was 
outside he ran back to me, thrust his great head 
against my side, uttered a loud bai k, and then 
trotted off. 

A few minutes after an Indian woman, dressed 
partly in English fashion, came in with a kettle of 
tea and some cake and bacon, which she smilingly 
placed ready for us, while Quong stood over by the 
fire looking very serious and troubled. 

Gunson smiled and gave me a cheery look, and we 
sat down to the early meal; but I did not feel 
hungry, and was playing with my breakfast wh^n 
Mr. Raydon came in, looking quiet and firm as he 
wished us good morning. 



350 TO THE WEST. 

" Quite ready for your start then ? '* he said ; 
" quite decided to go to day ? " 

''Quite," replied Gunson, shortly. 

" If you come back this way I shall be glad to see 
you " continued our host. 

" Thank you. I hope to come back safely some 
day, and," he said, turning to me, " to see how you 



are getting on." 

"I shall be very glad to see you again," I said 
warmly ; for though I did not feel that I exactly 
liked the prospector, there was something beside 
gratitude which attracted me to him. 

" The Chinaman goes with you, I suppose ? " said 
Mr. Eaydon, glancing to where Quong stood, looking 
troubled and uneasy at being superseded. 

" I don't know. He is free^ and not tied to me in 
any way." 

"What are you going to do?" said Mr. Raydon, 
turning sharply on the little fellow. 

"Light fi.' — make blead — plenty tea hot — stiong. 
Cookee, velly much cookee. Speak ploper English, 
allee same Melican man." 

"Yes; but are you going on with Mr. Gunson 
here ? " 

Quong looked at the prospector and then at me 
and at Esau, his little black eyes twinkling, and his 
face as full of lines as a walnut-shell; but Gunson 
made no sign, only went on with his breakfast. 

"No wantee me," said Quong, shaking his head. 
'*Go washee washee gole, no wantee Quong." 

"Then if I offered you work, would you like to 
stay here for a while ? " 

"Make blead, flesh blead ? Yes, Quong going stop." 



LEAVE TAKING. 851 

He looked at us and laughed. 

Then Gunson spoke. 

"Yes" he said, "he had better stay. I can carry 
my own pack and cook all I require. There," he 
said, rising, " I'm ready for my start now. Will you 
lads walk a little way with me 1 " 

" Yes/' I cried ; and two minutes later we were 
outside, with Esau shouldering the pack, while its 
owner stood for a few minutss talking earnestly to 
Mr. Raydon. I could not hear his words, but from 
his glancing two or three times in my direction, I 
guessed the subject of their coaversation. 

Gunson would not let us go far, but stopped short 
at the rise of a steep slope, at the foot of which the 
river ran. 

•'Good-bye, Mayne," he said. "I shall come and 
look you up by and by if the Indians do not kill 
me, or I am starved to death somewhere up yonder. 

No, no: niy nonsense/' he continued, as hfi saw rriy 

horrified look. *'No fear; I shall come back safely. 
Good bye. 

He shook hands with us both hurriedly, shouldered 
his pack, and we stood there watching him till he 
disappeared round a curve in the valley. 

" He don't like me,'' said Esau, in a grumbling 
tone, as we began to walk back. 

"And j^ou never liked him/' I said. 

**No. Perhaps it's because he had only got one 
eye. Never mind, he's gone now, and we're going 
to stay. Will the old man set us to work ? " 

There seemed to be no sign of it at first, for when 
we returned to the Fort Mr. Raydon was away, 
and when he returned we spent our time in what 



j; 



352 TO THE WEST. 

Esau called sight-seeing, for Mr. Raydon took us 
round the place, and showed us the armoury with 
its array of loaded rifles ; took us into the two corner 
block houses, with their carefully-kept cannon, and 
showed us how thoroughly he was prepared for 
danger if the Indians should ever take it into their 
heads to attack him. 

Then there were the storeSj with the gay-coloured 
blankets and other goods which were dear to the 
Indian and his squaw, and for which a portion of a 

tribe came from time to time to barter the skins 
they had collected by trapping and shooting. 

There they were, bales of them — seal, sea-otter, 
beaver, skunk, marten, and a few bear, the sight of 
all raising up in our hearts endless ideas of sport 
and adventure possibly never to be fulfilled. 

" There," said Mr. Raydon, when we had seen all 
the stores, including that where an ample supply of 
provisions was laid up, and we had visited the homes 
of his men, all of whom had married Indian wives, 
"I have not settled anything about you two lads 
yet, I may set you to work perhaps, but at all 
events not for a few days, so you can wander about 
the place. Don't go away from the streams. Why ? " 
he added, as he saw my inquiring look; "because 
if you wander into the forest there is nothing to 
guide you back. One tree is so like another that 
you might never find your way out again. Easy 
enough to talk about, but very terrible if you think 
of the consequences. It you ascend one of the 
streams, you have only to follow it back to the river. 
It is always there as a guide/' 

Nothing could have gratified us more, and for 



LKAVE TAKING. 353 

some days we spent our time exploring, always find- 
ing enough to attract, watching the inhabitants of 
the woods, fishing, bathing, climbing the trees, and 

going some distance up into the solitudes of one of 

the mountains. 

It was a pleasant time, and neither of us was in 
a hurry to commence work, the attractions were so 
many. 

*' It's so different to being in streets in London," 
Esau was always saying. ''Tbere it's all people, and 
you can hardly cross the roads for the 'busses and 
cabs. Here it's all so still, and I suppose you might 
go on wandering in the woods for ever and never see 
a soul." 

It almost seemed as if that might be the case, and 
a curious feeling of awe used to come over me when 
we wandered up one of the little valleys, and were 
seated in the bright sunshine upon some moss- 
cushioned roct:, listening to the mnrmnr of thr* wind 

high up in the tall pines — a sound that was like the 
gentle rushing of the sea upon the shore. 

Mr. Raydon generally asked us where we had 
been, and laughed at our appetites. 

" There, don't be ashamed, Mayne," he said, as he 
saw me look abashed; "it is quite natural at your 
age. Eat away, my lad, and grow muscular and 
strong. I shall want your help some day, for we are 
not always so quiet and sleepy as you see us now." 

I had good reason to remember his words, though 
I little thought then what a strange adventure was 
waiting to fall to my lot. 



Z 



CHAPTER XXXIV. 



WE MAKE A DISCOVERY, 




E two lads wandered away one day along a 
valley down wliich a stream came gliding 



her 



e, 



roai iiig 



in a torrent there, or 



tumbling over a mass of rock in a beau- 
tiful fall, whose spray formed quite a dew on the 
leaves of the ferns which clustered amonc^st the stones 
and masses of rock. To left and right the latter 
rose up higher and higher crowned with iir-trecs, 
some of which were rooted wherever there was 
sufficient earth, while others seemed to have started 
as seeds in a crevice at the top of a block of rock, 
and not findin^c enough food had sent down their 
roots over the sides lower and lower to where thoy 
could plunge into the earth, where they had grown 
and strengthened till the ma5S of rock was shut in 
tightly in what looked like a huge basket, wljose 
bars held the stone fast, while the great iii-tree ran 
straight up from the top. 

These wild places had a constant attraction for us, 
the greater that we were always in expectation of 
hearing a deer rush away, or catching sight of some 



WE MAKE A DISCOVERY. Soo 

fresh bird, while there was always a shivering an- 
ticipation of our coming face to face with a bear. 

The sun came down glowing and hot into the 
ravine, where the strong aromatic scent of the pines 
floated to us laden with health as we toiled on higher 
and higher, leaping from rock to rock, wading or 
climbing, and often making use of a great pine-trunk 
for a bridge. 

*' It's so different to the city," Esau used to say. 
" The roaring of the water puts you a bit in mind 
of Cheapside sometimes ; but you can't lie down 
there, and listen and think as you can here." 

" What do you generally think about, Esau ? " I 
said. 

"Dunno; mostly about getting higher up. Let's 
get higher up now. I say, look at the trout. Shall 
we try and get a few for dinner; the old man likes 
them ? " 

"As wp Pome back/' T -^aid. " Loi's go TTp higher 



now." 



"How far would it be up to where this stream 
begins ? " 

" Not very far," I said. " [t cannot come from 
the ice up yonder." 

" Why not ? " he said sharply. '' I think it must." 

*'It cannot, because it is so clear. We couldn't 
see the trout if it was a glacier stream." 

" Humph, no, I s'pose not. Where does it come 
from then ? 



)j 



'' Oh, from scores of rills away perhaps in the 
mountains. How beautifully clear the water is ! — you 
can see every stone at the bottom — and, look, it's 
like a network of gold on the sand." 



356 TO THE WEST. 

" What makes that ? " said Esau. 

" The ripple of the water as it runs. How beautiful 
it all is : '' 

" Yes ; I should like to build mother a cottage up 
there when she comes." 

"That's what you always say. Why don't you 
set to work and build one ready when she does 

come ? " 

" If you talk like that I will " said Esau, irritably. 
" Of course I always say so — shame if I didn't." 

" Well then, select your place and let's begin." 

" Shan't ! not for you to make fun of me," cried 
Esau, throwing himself down. " Now then, if you 
want to quarrel again, go it. I shan't grumble.'* 

We went on by the side of the little stream for 
quite half an-hour almost in silence, not from Esau 

being out of temper, but from the intense satisfaction 

we felt in being in so beautiful a place, and at last 

sat down close by a gravelly iDoking shallow, where 

the beautiful clear water tempted us to lie flat down, 
lean over till we could touch it, and drink. 

*' That's good water," said Esau, as he wiped his 
mouth. ** I wish plenty of fruit grew here too. What 
are you doing ? Why, you're not going to hunt for 

gold, are you ? " 

I did not answer, but went on with what I was 
doing; scooping up the gravel and sand, and agitat- 
ing my hand till the light sand was washed away 
and only the stones remained. It was in imita- 
tion of what I had seen Gunson and Quong do 
scores of times, and in the idlest of moods that I 
did this, partly, I think, because the water felt 
cool and pleasant to my hands, and the sensation 



WE MAKE A DISCOVERY. 357 

of the sand trickling between my fingers was 

agreeable. 

"I wonder whether Giinson has found a good 
place for gold yet ? " 

" Dunno," replied Esau, with a yawn. " I wish 
those people would come here, so that we could set 
to work in real earnest, and be making a house. 
Shall you come and live with us, or with Mr. and 
Mrs. John?" 

"Cant say at present. All that sort of thing 
must be left till they come, and oh ! " 

''What's the matter?" 

" Nearly slipped in ; that's all," I said, selecting a 
fresh stone for my seat, the one I had been using 
at the edge of the stream having turned slowly over 
and pitched me forward. 

" Only got wet ; you would soon get dry again 
in the sunshine." 

"Yfts/' T said^ taking a frftsh handful of gravfil 

and beginning to shake it to and fro in the stream, 
pausing every now and then to pick out the big 
stones and throw them away, and the gravel after 
them, before taking another handful. 

" Makes your hands nice and clean, doesn t it ? " 
said Esau. " Nothing like sand for that. Found any 
gold yet ? " 

" Not yet," I said. 

" No, nor you won't. There's no gold here, only 
a few little specks like Quong got." 

"Oh, there might be," I said carelessly, as I thrust 
in my hand a little deeper, and brought out a good 
handful of sand from lower down. " Gunson said 
he was sure there was plenty if you could — " 



358 TO THE WEST. 

" Well, could what ? " said Esau, as he lay back 
with his hands beneath his head, his cap over his 

eycs^ and his voice sounding hollow and strange from 
having to run round inside his hat. 

I did not answer, for I was washing the contents 
of my hand with a sudden feeling of eagerness. 

'' Well ? " he said again, " could what ? " 

"Esau, come and look down here/' I whispered 
very huskily. 

" Can't/' he said, lazily, " Too comfortable to 

move." 

" Come here I " I ciied again. 

" Shan't. I'm tired. I don't want to be roused 
up to look at a fly, or some stupid bird in a tree. 
You can look at it all to yourself." 

"Come here, will you?" I said so fiercely that he 
sprang up. 

" What's the matter ? " 

" Come and Inok here ! '* 

He rose and came to me, looking wonderingly at 
my hands, which I held closely clasped together. 

"What's the matter?" he said; "cut yourself? 
Wait till I tear up my hank' chief." 

No, no/' I panted, and the excitement I felt 
made me giddy. 

"■ Well, I thought you hadn t," he cried. " Don't 
bleed. Here, what is it ? What's the matter Avith 
you ? You look as silly as a goose." 

I stared at him wildly, and no answer came. 

" He's going to be ill/' I heard Esau mutter, as 
he shook me angrily. " I say, don't, don't have no 
fevers nor nothink out here in this wild place 
where there's no doctors nor chemists' shops, to 



a 



WE MAKE A DISCOVERY. 359 

get so much as an ounce o' salts. Oh, don't, 
don't ! " 

'^'m not ill," I said at last. ''There's nothing 
the matter." 

"Then what do you mean by frightening a fellow 
like that ? I say, I like a game sometimes, but 
that's too bad." 

"I I didn't want to startls you, Esau," I said, 
hurriedly, as the giddy sensation passed away. " Look 

— look here." 

I held my hands open before him, raising one 
from the other slowly, as I felt half afraid that it 
was partly fancy, and that when my hand was 
quite open, that which I believed I held would be 
gone. 

" Well ? " said Esau, " what of it ? Wet stones ? 
Think you'd caught a little trout ? " 

" No, no," I cried impatiently. '' Look — look !" 

I raised one finger of my right hand, and began 
to separate the little water-worn stones with my 
palm raised in the sunshine, and for a few moments 
neither spoke. Then as Esau suddenly caught sight 
of some half-dozen smoothly ground scales, and a 
tiny flattened bead with quite a tail to it, he uttered 
a shout. 

''Hoorav!" he cried. "Gold! That beats old 
Quong ; he never got as much as that in his tin 
plate. Yah ! 'tain't gold. Don't believe it I it's 
what old Gunson called Pyrrymids." 

"Pyrites? No," I said. "It's gold; Pm sure of 
it. Look what a beautiful yellow colour it is." 

" So's lots of things a beautiful yellow colour," 

said Esau, sneeringly, as he curled up his lip and 



I 



360 TO THE WEST. 

looked contemptuously at the contents of my hand. 
"Tell you what it is — it's brass." 

" How can it be brass ? " I said, examining the 
sc ales, which looked dead and frosted, but of a 
beautiful yellow. 

" Very easy." 

"Don't be absurd," I cried, bringing my school 
knowledge to bear; "brass is an artificial product." 

" That it ain't," cried Esau, triumphantly; "why, 
it's strong as strong, and they use it for all sorts 
of things.'* 

" I mean, it's made by meltiag copper and tin or 
zinc together. It's an alloy, not a natural metal." 

" Don't tell me," said Esau, excitedly ; " think I 
don't know ? It's brass, and it's got melted up 
together somehow." 

'* Nonsense," I cried ; " it's gold ; I'm sure of it." 
" 'Tain't. Yah ! that isn't gold." 

"It is ; I'm sure.'* 

It's brass, I tell you." 
" Impossible." 
" Then it's copper." 

" Copper isn't this colour at all, Esau. It's gold." 
" Not it ; may be gold outside perhaps. It's gilt, 
that's what it is." 

"You stupid, obstinate donkey !" I cried in a pet. 
" Oh, I am, am I ? Look here, mister, donkeys 

kick, so look out." 

'' You kick me if you dare ! " I cried. 

"Don't want to kick you, but don't you be so 
handy calling people donkeys." 

" Then don't you be so absurd. How can a piece 
of metal out here be gilt ? " 



<i 



WE MAKE A DISCOVERY, 361 

" By rubbing up against other pieces, of course, 
just the same as your boots get brazed by rubbing 
'em on the fender." 

" I believe you think it*s gold all the time, only 
you will not own to it," I cried. 

" 'Fraid to believe it, lad ; too good to be true. 
Why, if you can find bits like that by just wiggling 
your hand about in the sand, there must be lots 
more/' 

" Yes ; enough to make us both rich/' 

" I say, think it really is gold ? " whispered "Rsan, 
hoarsely. 

" Yes, I feel sure of it." 

" Look ! there's another bit/ he cried, dashing his 
hand down and sending the water flying, as he caught 
sight of a scrap, about as big as a flattened turnip- 
seed, in the sand, into which it sank, or was driven 
down by Esau's energetic action. 

" Gone ! " he said, dismally. 

" Never mind ; we'll come on here with a shovel, 
and wash for more." 

" But, I say, how do you know it's gold ? How 
can you tell?" 

" One way is because it's so soft, you can cut it 
almost like lead/' 

" Who says so ? " 

" Gunson told me/* 

" Then we'll soon see about that," cried Esau, 
pulling out and opening his knife. " Sit down here 
on this stone and give me that round bit." 

" What are you going to do ? " I said. 

" Try if it'll cut. Split it lil^e you do a shot when 
you go a-fishing/' 



>} 



362 TO THE WEST. 

He picked the little pear-shaped piece from the 
sand, laid it on the stone beside us, and placing the 
edge of the knife upon it, pressed down hard, with 
the result that he cut a nick iu the metal, which 
held on fast to the blade of the big knife. 

*' There ! " I cried, triumphantly. 

"I dont believe it yet/' said Esau, hoarsely. 
"Are you sare it ain't that pyrry stufi'? " 

"Certain! that all splinters into dust if you try 
and cut it. I am sure that's gold." 

" Ain't much of it,'' said Esau. *' Take four 
times as much as that to make a half-sovereign." 

*' Well, if we only got four times as much as that a 
day, it would mean three pounds a week. It is gold, 
and we've made a discovery that Gunson would have 
given anything to see. 

"And he's gone nobody knows where, and it's all 
our own," said Esau, looking cautiously lound. "I 

say, think anybody has seen us ? " 

" What, up here ? " I said, laughing. 

"Ah, you don't know. I say, slip it into your 
pocket." 

" Let's pick out the stones first." 

"Never mind the stones," cried Esau; "slip it in. 
We may be watched all the time, and our finding it 
may turn out no good. I'll look round. 

He looked up and ran back a little way, peering 
in amongst the tree-trunks and clumps of berries 
and fern. Then returning he went higher up the 
stream and searched about there before coming back. 

" Don't see no one," he said, looking quite pale and 
excited at me. " I say, you're not playing any games 
are you ? " he whispered, looking up. 



}} 



WE MAKE A DISCOVERY. 363 

« Games ? " 

"Yes; you didnt bring that and put it down 
there, and then pretend to find it ? " 

" Esau ! As if I should ! " 

"No, of course you wouldn't. It is all real, ain't it ? " 

"Yes; all real." 

"Then we shall have made our fortune just before 
they come out to us. Oh^ I say ! but — " 

" What is it ? " 

" Shall we find this place again ? " 

"Yes; we only have to follow up the stream here, 
and it doesn't matter about this one place: there 
must be gold all the way up this little river right 



away into the mountains.' 

"But it will be ours, won't it ? " 

"I don't know," I said. 

"But we found it — leastwise you did. All this 
land ought to be yours, or ours. I say, how is it 
going to be ^ " 

"I don't understand you," I said. 

"I mean about that. I s'pose you consider you 
found it ? " 



" Well, there isn't much doubt about that," I said. 

" Oh, I don't see nothing to laugh at in it. All 
right, then. I don't grumble, only you can't say as 
all the country up here is to be yours." 

" Of course not. What do you mean ? " 

" Oh, only that I don't see no fun in your making 
a fortune and me being left nowhere. I want a 
fortune too. I'm going to hunt now for myself." 

" Nonsense ! " I cried ; " what is the use of your 
going away ? Isn't there enough here for both of 
us?" 



364 TO THE WEST. 

" Dunno," said Esau, scratching his head. *' That is 
what I -want to know ; you ain't got much yet." 

" Why, Esau/' I said, struck by his surly way, " we 
were the best of friends when we came out." 

"Yes; but we hadn't found gold then — leastwise 
you hadn't." 

" But what difference does that make 1 " 

*' Ever so much. You're going to be rich, and I 
ain't. Every one ain*t so lucky as you." 

" But, Esau," I cried, " of course you will share with 
me. We found it together." 

** Say that again." 

" I say that we will share together." 

"What, go halves?" 

'^ Of course." 

" You mean it ? " 

" Why, of course I mean it. You've as good a right 
to the gold we find as I have." 

" Horft, shake hands on it" 

I laughingly held out my hand, which he seized and 
pumped up and down. 

" I always thought your father was a gentleman," 
he cried. " Now I feel sure as sure of it. Halves 
it is, and we won't tell a soul." 

" But we must," I cried. 

" What, and let some one come and get it all ? " 

" I should only tell some one who has a right to 
know : Mr. Raydon," 

" What right's he got to know?" cried Esau. "I 
say, don't ^o and throw it all away." 

** I consider that Mr. Raydon, who has welcomed 
us here and treated us as friends, has a perfect right 
to know." 



WE MAKE A DISCOVERY. 865 

" But it's like giving him a share in it/' 

" Well, why not ? " 

*'But, don't you see, it will be thirds instead of 
halves, and he'll want to bring some one else in, and 
it 'II make it fourths." 

" Well, and if he did ? Sometimes a fourth is 
better than a half. I mean with the help of a clever 
man we should get more for our fourth than we 
should if we had half apiece." 

" Oh, all right. I s'pose you know," he cried ; 
" but I wouldn't tell any one else." 

" Of course I'm right/' I said, sharply. 

"And we couldn't go on getting the gold here 
without his knowing it. So you'd better tell him." 

*' That's a nice selfish way of looking at it, Master 
Esau," I said. 

" Dessay it is," he replied ; " but gold makes you 
feel selfish. I dunno that I feel so glad now that 

we've found it " 

And I don't think I felt quite so excited and 
pleased as I had a short time before. 

" It ain't my fault/' said Dean ; " it's your thinking 
I didn't want to play fair." 

'* Don't talk like that/' I cried, angrily. "Who 
thinks you don't want to play fair ? No, no ; don't say 
any more about it. Now then : can we recollect this 
spot exactly ? " 

"Why, you said that there must be gold all along/' 

" Yes, I know," I cried ; " but Mr Raydon may 
want to see the place, and we must bring him where 
we can find some and show him directly." 

" Well/' said Esau, *' there's a clump of fir trees on 
this side, and a clump of fir trees on that side/' 



866 TO THE WEST. 

" Ob, you old stupid," I cried, " when there are 
clumps of fir-trees everywhere. That won't do." 
" Well then, let's make a cross with our knives on 



those twisting ones/' 

"What, to tell people this is the very place? 
That wouldn't do." 

" Well then," he cried, peevishly, " you find out a 
better way." 

I stood thinking a few minutes, but no better way 
came. Then I thought I had hit out the plan. 

" Look here," I said, '* we'll make the two crosses on 
the other side of the trees. No one would notice 
them then." 

Esau burst into a hoarse laugh. 

" Of course they will not," he said, " nor us neither. 
Why, you keep on coming to trees like these over 
and over all day long. We shan't find 'em again." 

I felt that he was right, and thought of plan 

after plan putting stones in a heap, cutting off a 

branch, sticking up a post, and the like, but they all 
seemed as if they would attract people to the spot, 
and then induce tliem to searcii about and at last 
try the sand as Quong did, and I said so. 

" Yes," said Esau, " that's right enough. There 
ain't many people likely to see 'em but Indians, and 
I s'pose they won't go gold washing, nor any other 
washing, for fear of taking off their paint." 

" Well, what shall Ave do ? " I cried. " We mustn't 
lose the place again now we have found it, and we 

shall be sure to if we don't mark it. I've seen 
hundreds of places just like this." 

" Well then, why not make a mark ? " said Esau. 

" Because whoever sees it will be sure that it 



WE MAKE A DISCOVERY. 367 

means something particular^ for some one to stop and 
search." 

"Make a mark then on that big tree which will 
tell 'em to go on/' said Esan, grinning. 

'' But how ? " 

" ril show you/' he said ; and he took out his big 
knife from its sheath. "Let's look round again 
first." 

We looked round, but the silence was almost 
awful, not even a bird's note fell upon our ears. 
Once a faint, whistling sound came from the far 
distance, that was all ; and Esau went up to the 
biggest fir-tree whose trunk was clear of boughs, 
and he was about to use his knife, when we both 
jumped away from the tree. For from close at 
hand came a sharp, clear tap, as if somebody had 
touched the ground with a light cane. 

" What's that ? " whispered Esau, with his eyes 
staring, and his ii^outh partly opened. 

I shook my head. 

" Some one a-watching us," he whispered. " Here, 
let's dive right in among the trees and see." 

But I held his arm, and we stood in that beautiful 
wild ravine, listening to the rippling of the water, 
and peering in among the tall pines, expecting to 
see the man who had made the sound. 

" I say/' whispered Esau, " T can't see or hear 
anything. Ain't it rather rum ? " 

He said "rum," bvit he looked at me as if he 
thought it very terrible, ^^ ith the consequenc3 that 
his fear was contagious, and I began to feel uncom- 
fortable as we kept looking at each other. 

"Shall we run ? " whispered E^au. 



368 TO THE WEST. 

At another time such an idea would not l.ivj 

4 

occurred to him. The forest and the streams that 
run up the valleys wore always solitary, but we felt 
no particular dread when going about, unless we saw 
the footmarks of bears. But now that we were in 
possession of the secret of the gold, the same idea of 
our being watched impressed us both, and we turned 
cold with fear, and all because we had heard that 
faint blow on the ground. 

I don't know whether I looked pale as I stood by 
Esau, when he asked me if we should run, but I do 
know that the next moment I felt utterly ashamed 
of myself^ and in the reaction — I suppose to conceal 
my shame for my cowardice — I struck Esau heavily 
on the shoulder and made a false start. 

" Run run — the Fort ! " I cried. Esau bounded 
off, and I hung back watching him till he turned 
to see me standing there laughing, when he stopped 

short, looking at me curiously, and then came slowly 

to where I was. 

" What did you say run for ? " he cried, angrily. 
" You asked me if you should/' I replied. 



" Then there ain't no one coming ? 



J) 



" No." 

" What a shame I " he cried. " It's too bad." 

" Yes, for us to be frightened at nothing. Do you 
know what that noise was ? " 

" No, I don't know." 

" It was a squirrel dropped a nut or a fir-cone. 
Why, it's just the same noise as you hear in the 
country at home when they drop an acorn." 

" Then why didn't you say so ? I've never been in 
no countries where sqiiirrels shies nuts and acorns 



WE MAKE A DISCOVERY. 369 

at people. IVe always seen 'em in cages spinning 
round and round." 

"That's what it was, Esau. There's nobody 
watching. Now then, how are you going to mark 
the tree ? " 

He looked at me rather sulkily, but began to 
smile directly, as he drew hfs keen-edged knife 
across the trunk of the great tiee upon which he 
was going to operate before. Then, making a 
parallel incision close to the first, he produced a 
white streak where he removed the bark. 

" Well," I said, " that's as bad as anything." 

" No, it ain't : wait a bit," he said ; and carving 
away at the thick bark, he made four deep incisions 
at one end so as to form an arrow-head, and eight 
at the other end for the feathering of the arrow, so 
that when he had ended there was a rough white 
arrow on the red bark pointing down the river, and 
of course in the direction of the Fort. 

"There ! " he said, triumphantly. " No brave will 
think that means gold in the stream, will he ? " 

I confessed that it was most unlikely, and we 
started off home. 

"Wouldn't old Quong like to know of that?" I 
said. 



" Yes ; he'd give something— half of what he found 
I dare say," cried Esau ; '* but he isn't going to know, 
nor anybody else, from me." 



.P'Wffjf^ 




■•st^ 



A A 



CHAPITER XXXV. 




"ON MY WORD OF HONOUR." 

FELT rather startled when we left the 
valley, for we came suddenly upon a 
large party of Indians who seemed very 
ditferent to the quiet, stolid looking 
beings we had been accustomed to see with their 
skin canoes, or busy fishing along the side of the 
river. These were swarthy, fierce looking fellows, 
mounted on sturdy, wiry looking ponies — steeds 
which they sat admirably. 

It might be thought that they would be as much 
surprised and startled as we were, but they did not 
make a sign to indicate that they even saw us, but 
rode slowly along, well armed, and with their long 
hair, feathers, and gaily coloured blankets, giving 
them a brightly picturesque look. 

" They don't mean mischief, do they ? " whispered 
Esau. 

'' No, they must be friendly Indians," I said ; " and 
look, they've got packs on those other horses. I 
know : they are taking skins up to the Fort/' 

This proved to be the case, for the party kept 



"on my word of iionouj^." 371 

right on in the same track as we were taking, halting 
a short distance from the gate of the Fort; but, 
though we were pretty close to them all the time, 
they never made the slightest sign of being aware of 
our presence; and when we entered, and I glanced 
back, I could see that they were already beginning 
to make their little camp, while others were seeing 
to the laden horses. 

"What!" said Mr.Eaydon, when I told him of my 
discovery. " Gold ? " 

" Yes ; and I think in large quantities." 

"Are you sure it is gold ? " lie said. 

I took out what I luid found, and placed the little 
scales before him. He seized them, and examined 
them carefully, closing his hand over them afterward, 
and sitting gazing straight before liim for some 
moments, while a chill of diead ran through me. 

''It is not gold," I thought; and as I gazed at him 

interitly, lip Jookod up 

''Well?" he said. 

"You think it is not gold, sir?" I said. 
"I am sure it is/' he leplied, sadly. "Tell me 
whereabouts you found it ; " and I described the 

place. 

" Yes," he said ; " one of our most lovely valleys. 
Here, are you tired ? " 

"No." 

" Are you ? " he said, turning to Esau, who replied 
that he was not the least so. 

*' Stop a moment to whom have you spoken ? " 

" Spoken, sir ? " 

'* How many people about the place have you told 
about the gold ? " 



372 TO THE WEST. 

" No one, sir." 

" Neither of you ? " he said, with a sharp look at 

Esau. 

" We came straight to you," I said, " because I felt 
that you ought to know about it, and I thought you 
would give us your advice," 

He laid his hand on my shoulder, and gripped it 
fast, speaking very firmly, but in a kindlier tone than 
I had heard from him before. 

*' That's right," he said, " quite right. We'll go up 
there at once, and see if this is an important di^= 
covery, or only one of the little patches that are found 

at times." 

" Then no one saw you there ? " he said, after a 
few minutes' thouglit, 

" We did not see a soul, sir, till we came out of the 
little valley, and found that party of Indians coming 
here." 

He stood with his brows knit, tbipking deeply, and 
then he nodded his head sharply. 

''Yes,'' he said, " we'll go at once. Come 






along. 

He led us to his garden, and out of the shed took 
a shovel and a shallow wooden basket. 

" You lads can carry these," he said, " and I'll t-dvc 

my rifle. It will look as if we are going on some 
pleasure trip. One minute, though, while I givo 
orders about those Indians." 

He spoke to his second in command, giving him 
some iustrixctions, whose import I did not understand 
then ; and afterwards we strolled out through the 
gate slowly enough, and wandered away along the 
track and down by the lake, Mr. Raydon stopping 



*'0N MY WORD OF HONOUR." 373 

every now and then to pick up soiae flower or stone 
to which he drew my attention. 

This went on till we were out of sight of the Fort, 

when his whole manner changed. 

" Now, boys," he said, sharply, " on as fast as you 
can. How far is it from here ? " 

"About two hours* walk," I said. 

" Then we shall not be back much before dusk ; so 
best leg foremost.*' 

It was quite the two hours before we got to the 
spot where the tree was blazed, and Mr. Raydon*s 
keen eyes detected the sign long before we were 
abreast of it. 

" Your mark to show the spot, eh ? " he said. 
'* Very ingenious. It would have deceived me. 
Now wait a few minutes." 

He walked forward for a few hundred yards, and 
then returned. 

'* No one hac! been along here," he said. *' There 

is not a footmark. Now then ^ to work." 

He stood his rifle against a tree, stripped off his 
boots and stockings, and signed to me to do the 
same. 

*' You, my lad," he said to Esau, "keep watch by 
my rifle, and at the slightest 3ign or sound give me 
warning. Now then, Gordon, in with you and use the 
shovel." 

I stepped into the stream, where it was shallow, 
and in obedience to his instructions plied the tool, 
and threw three or four spadefuls into the shallow 
wooden basket, which he held down then in the 
running water, and rapidly agitated, giving it a 
curious circular motion, and letting the light sand 



374 TO THE WEST. 

run with the water over the side. Then he stopped 
from time to time to pick out stones. 

"Another shovelful/' he said, "from that place. 
Yes/' he continued, as I obeyed him ; " now another 
from as deep as you can. In with it/' 

Thus in the late afteinjoii, with the sun getting 
loWj and throwing our shadows far over the stream, 
he worked the basket about in the water somewhat 
after the manner adopted by Quong, but of course on 
a large scale, for the basket was heavy with what I 
had thrown in, and it made the muscles stand out in 
knots upon his arms "where he had rolled his sleeves 
up to his shoulders ; and I remember thinking, as I 
gazed at his sun browned face and gray hair, what a 
fine thing it must be to feel so big and strong and 
manly. 

Esau stood resting on the rifle, for he could not 
resist the temptation of taking hold of it to stand 
like a sentry, while I, nearly up to my knees in 
water, raised one foot and rested it on the blade of 
the shovel, as intent as my companion, and, I am 
afraid, indulging in all kinds of golden dreams of 
wealth and position, and of how happy we should 
all be. 

It did not take long to arrange what I should do 
for Mrs. John Dempster. I know I had determined 
upon a carriage and pair, with a very careful coach- 
man, expressly for her use ; though how it was to be 
got out to that wilderness, or used there, I did not 
stop to think. I onl}^ meant her to grow well and 
strong, and have every luxury while Mr, John could 
be a perfect country gentleman, and study, and be 
my friend. That gold was to be regular Arabian 



*'0N MY WORD OF HONOUR" 375 

Nights wealth, nnd T felt aheady quite a prince. 
These ideas floated rapidly through my brain, while 
Mr. Raydon made a low w^ashing noise with the 
tiny basket, and discoloured the flowing water as he 
let the hne sand pass away. 

All at once he stopped, held the dripping basket- 
every drop which ran from it turned to ruddy gold 
by the sinking sun — tightly between his knees, and 
again rapidly picked out the larger stones, sending 
them flying about, to fall with a splash in the water. 

" Can I help you, sir ? " 

*']Slo, my boy, no," he said. "I have done this 
thing before. One can manajje it best/' 

Just then I heard a sigh from Esau, who could 
not refrain in his anxiety from coming nearer the 
river. 

This made Mr. Raydon look up sharply, and he 
smiled. 

" Hullo^ sentry/' ho snid^ "you're not keeping a 

good look out. Mind what you are about with that 
rifle." 

"Yes, sir, I'll be very careful/' said Esau, "and I 
am looking out well." 

"For the gold/' said Mr. Raydon, in an undertone, 
which words I caught, as he went on picking and 
throwing out smaller stones, then washing the basket 
round again and again, and the more he worked, the 
more his countenance seemed to change, till it looked 
older and more careworn than I had ever seen it 
before. 

I knew that there were a few scales and beads of 
gold, for I had seen them glisten in the sunshine as 
he rapidly moved the basket but directly after I felt 



376 TO THE WEST. 

horribly disappointed, for he set it right down in 
the water, the weight of stoneK within it keeping it 
at the bottom, and splashed toward me. 

"Here," he said roughly, "give me the shovel." 
I gave it into his hand, and he waded half across 
to where there was an eddy behind a huge mass of 
rock, and bending down here, he scraped away the 
stones and sand, as if trying to make a hole, dis- 
colouring the water right along the stream. Then, 
forcing the shovel down as far as he could drive it, 
he brought up a dripping quantity of sand and small 
gravel, placed it in the basket, returned for another 
shovelful, and placed it with the other before handing 
the shovel to me. 

" If there is much gold," he said, *' it would lie at 
the bottom of that eddy, where it would be swept 
when the stream is in flood. Now, then, we shall 
see. 

For another ten minutes he went on washino- 

again, while I could see Esau, as he crept nearer and 
nearer, perspiring with impatience, and glancing up 
and down Avhat in the setting sun now seemed to be 
a golden valley, for water, rocks, and the ferns seemed 
to be tinted of a ruddy yellow, and the tall fir-trees 
stood up like spires of gold. 

At last I caught a glimpse of something bright 
again, but I could not be sure that there was more gold 
in the basket; it might only be the stones glistening 
in the wonderful ruddy light that filled the ravine. 

" Hah ! '* ejaculated Mr. Kaydon, and he once more 
set down the basket beneath the water. " Hard work. 
What trouble men take to get gold ! " 

" There is some in the basket, isn't there, sir ? " 



"ON MY WORD OF HONOUR." 377 

I said anxiously, and in no wise prepared for the 
result. 

'' Wtj'll see directly/' he said. " Let's get out of 
this. The water is bitterly cold." 

He waded out now with the basket, from which 
the golden water dripped as if the contents were 
melting. 

" Why, there is some," cried Dean, excitedly. 

" Some ? " cried Mr. Raydon, bitterly. " Unfortun- 
ately, yes. Look I " and he held the basket sidewise 
in the full blaze of the glowing sun, giving it a 
shake, so that we could see scales beads, and tiny 
nuggets dotted about among the flashing stones, and 
all looking of that beautiful pure yellow colour which 
is possessed alone by native gold. 

<' Why, there must be pounds," cried Esau, 
excitedly. 

"Pish!" ejaculated Mr. Raydon, contemptuously. 
" How you boys let your imagination go wild ! There 
must be, however, a full ounce — a wonderful washing 
for the trial." 

" Then you are not disappointed, sir VI said, 
eagerly. 

" Yes," he cried, turning upon me fiercely ; 
" horribly." 

*' But there must be quantities more^ sir." 

"Yes. I was in hopes that it was a mere patchy 
but everything points to the fact that the stream is 
rich, and it may be far better higher up." 

"But you said you were disappointed, sir?" I 
said, as he sat down, and began to replace his 
stockings and boots. 

"I am boy, horribly." 



378 TO THE WEST. 

'' With all that wealth before us ? " 
" Yes. Do you know what it means ? " 
" Riches for us all, sir," I said, proudly. 
" Hah ! Look here, boy. I have been out in 
these glorious valleys many years now. The place is 
a perfect Eden, where nature smiles upon us, and 
wealth showers her golden gifts. You know my 
home, and that no troubles come, save some trifle 
with the Indians now and then. Do you know what 
would happen if it were known that this ravine 
teems with gold ? " 

" We should set to work and make fortunes of it, 
sir, and not let it be known.'* 

" Bah ! Impossible, Gordon. In one month from 
now the news would have spread ; and as long as 
the gold lasted, this place would be turned from 
a Paradise into a horror. The scum of tlie 
American population would float here, with all 

the lawlessness that was in California in its early 

days. Drinking bars and gambling saloons would 
rise like mushrooms ; and where now all is beauty 
and peace, there would be robbery, violence, murder, 
drunkenness, and misery too horrible to contem- 
plate." 

''What!" I cried, incredubusly, "because a rich 
supply of gold is found ? " 

" Yes. I have seen it all, and I know," he cried ; 
" and I have often hoped and prayed that no gold 
might be found near here. Gold can be made a 
blessing, but too often it has proved a curse." 

I looked at Esau, and in spite of my trouble 
and disappointment as I saw my fortune fading 
away, and with it Mrs. Joh n's carriage and my 



" ON MY WORD OF HONOUR/' 379 

life of ease and plenty, I could not help smiling, 

for my companion's face was comic in the extreme. 

" There, let's get back," said Mr. Raydon, stamping 

his feet in his heavy boots. 

"But what " 

"Am I going to do "with the gold ? " he said, quickly. 
" Oh, Ave'll take it home with us. Dig up a root or 
two of those ferns to put in the basket, and hide 
what we have found." 



" Then you will not work for the gold with us, sir ? " 
I said, as Esau stood holding the rifle, listening 
eagerly. 

*'No," said Mr. Raydon, sternly. "And now 
listen. I am chief officer of this fort and station. 
I am, so to speak, almost a king here among these 
people ; and amongst the tribes who come to trade 
I am their father and chief of chiefs, and my word 
is law." 

" Ypc?, sir, I know/' I said 

"You two lads were sent out to me by my thought- 
less brother in law, who is always meaning well and 
doing ill. You were dehghted by the prospect, and 
did not see what a mad scheme it was. As it 
happens, all has turned out well, though it is almost 
a miracle to me that you have both reached me in 

safety." 

I thought of Gunson, and how we could not have 
done it without his help; and as I thought of him, 
I recalled the object of his visit to this region — 
prospecting for gold and other metals and of what 
he would say to our discovery. 

" Well/' said Mr. Raydon, " you reached me safe 
and sound, and though I was annoyed at your coming 



380 TO THE WEST. 

and being thrown on my hands as you were, I think 
I may say I have not treated you unkindly/' 

*' Indeed you have not" I ciied earnestly, as I held 
out my hand to him. " You have been very generous 
to us both, sir, and I am most grateful." 

" Then prove it," he cried, gripping my hand. 

" How, sir ? What shall I do ? " 

"Hold your tongue. Do not say a word of your 
discovery to a soul. Above all, that friend of yours, 
Gunson, the prospector, must never know." 

" Not tell any one, sir ? Not make use of our 
discovery ? " 

" No," he said, firmly. " Promise." 

" Oh, I say ! " cried Esau. 

" And you too, sir ! " said Mr. Raydon. 

I stood looking at him for a few minutes, thinking 
as he fixed his eyes on mine, and then I pressed his 
hand firmly. 

"Yes, sir; I promise." 

"On your word of honour as a gentleman's son ?" 

'' On my word of honour as a gentleman's son, sir," 
I said, proudly. 

" That will do," he said, releasing my hand, and 
smiling at me warmly. " I like that, Mayne, better 
than any oaths. Now, Esau Dean, what have you 
to say?" 

"Oh, I don't like it at all, sir," said Esau, bluntly; 
" but him and me's been mates all throu^i^h, and I 



won't go back from anything he says. But it is 
disappointing, now ain't it ? " 

"It seems so to you, my lad," said Mr. Raydon, 
kindly ; " but give me your promise, and it may prove 
of more value to you than your share of the gold. 



"ON MY WORD OF HONOUR." 381 

You see I give up my claim, and mine would be a 
big one if I liked to exercise it, I dare say." 

"Am I to promise, Mr. Gordon, sir ? " said Esau. 

"Yes, just as I have," 

** All right, I promise too." 

" I look to you both to keep your words." 

"I shan't tell nobody unless he docs," said Esau, 
gruffly, as he stood the rifle against a stone. 

" And he will not," said Mr. Raydon. " There, let's 
get back. I never leave the place as a rule when 
Indians are about." 

" Are they dangerous ? " I asked, 

"No; and yet not to be trusted. What savages 
really are, Gordon ? Thanks, my lad," he said, as I 
dug up and placed a couple of fern-roots with their 
spreading fronds in the basket, so as to completely 
cover the fine gravel at the bottom, and the gold. 
"We must wash it again when we get back," he 

continupd, **and then diviflfi it in two equal portions, 

for you lads to keep as a memento of to-day's work. 
Now, Dean, give me my rifle." 

Esau ran back to where he had stood the rifle, 
and was coming back, when he tripped and fell. 

At the same moment it seemed to me that some 
one struck me a violent bl 3W beneath my le ft 
shoulder which drove me partly round, and made me 
drop the basket just as there was a sharp report, 
followed by a peculiar ringing in my ears, and then 
all was blank. 




CHAPTER XXXVI. 



MY DOCTOR AND NURSE. 




HEN I opened my eyes again it was with 
a horrible sensation of sickness at my 
heait, and my eyes swam, but I could 
dimly make out Mr. Raydon^s face, as 
he leaned over me, and I heard him say, as if he was 
speaking a very long way from me in a very small 

voice — 

" That's right ; go on. Keep bathing liis face." 
Then I heard Esau speak in a faint choking voice. 
" Oh, sir ! oh, sir ! He won't die, Avili he ? Tell 

me he won't die." 

"I tell you to keep on bathing his face. There, 
take that basket and throw tlie wretched gold back 
into the stream. The basket will hold a little water 
at the bottom. No, no ! sc]ueeze Avhat you have in 
your handkerchief fiist over his face," 

There was a cool refreshing sensation on my face 
directly after, and all the time I could hear that 
Esau was in great trouble, for he kept on softer with 
a curious moaning voice 

" Oh oh— oh— oh ! " 

It seemed very strange, and sounded to me as if it 



MY DOCTOR ANE NURSE. 383 

was all occurring some distance off, and I wanted to 
shout to him, and ask what was the matter. But 
Mr. Kaydon was still leaning over me, pulling me 
about it seemed, and a sharp pain suddenly shot 
through me, and made me wince. 

"Don't don't," I said, faintly; but he kept on 
burning me, so it seemed to me, with a red hot iron 
in the chest; and after doing this for some time, 
while Esau kept on after a bit making his low 
moaning sound and splashing water over my face, 
Mr. Kaydon turned me over, and began burning me 
on the back. 

I wanted to strui^gle, and tell him to leave off, but 



no words would come ; and he kept on hurting me 
dreadfully, and pushing me about, for what seemed 
to be a terribly long time, before he turned me 
again upon my back. 

"Oh, do tell me, sir, please do tell me, whether 

be'll die" T heard Esaii sav acrnin and I fanried 

that I caught sight of him through a thick cloud. 

" I cannot tell you, my lad," I heard Mr. Raydon 
say. " Please God ! no," 

"But I shot him, sir; I shot him. It was me, 
and I declare to goodness I'd sooner have shot 
my sel f." 

" Yes, my lad, I believe you," said Mr. Raydon, 
very faintly, from further away now. 

" Is it — is it right through the heart ? " 

"No, no, no, not so bad as that. The bullet has 
passed right through just below the shoulder." 

" There — then he'll bleed to death," groaned Esau. 
" No ; I've stopped that. Quick ! more water ; he's 
going off again." 



384 TO THE WEST. 

"He's dying! he's dying!" cried Esau, very close 
to me now, as it seemed to me ; but his voice died 
out quickly, beginning as a shrill cry and ending in 
a faint whisper, and it all grew dark and silent for a 
time. Then once more I seemed to wake up with a 
shrill toned bell ringing loudly in my ears ; and I lay 
with a terrible sensation of deathly faiutness till I 
heard Esau say, close to me 

'^ 111 carry him, sir." 

" No, no, my lad." 

" But you don't know how strong I am, sir." 

" We must not shake him more than we can help, 
and he must be in an easy position. Have you your 
knife ? I left mine." 

''Yes, sir, here," cried Esau; and then in a low 
voice, " Oh, poor chap ! poor chap ! — what have I 

done ! " 

I lay very still then, listening to a hacking noise as 
if soiTie one were chopping witli a km'fo, and I Ustened 
again for what seemed a long time to a good deal of 
rustling and panting, and what sounded like the 
tearing up of handkerchiefs. 

" There,'* said Mr. Raydon, " if we are careful that 
will bear him. Now then — no, wait a moment. I 
must tie the rifle to this pole. I want something 

else." 

" Here's my other boot-string, sir," I heard Esau 

say. 

" Yes, capital. That will do. Now, are you ready ? 

Get hold of his legs quietly; don't hesitate, and 

when I say noio, both lift together." 

I had some faint, wondering thought as to whom 

they were talking about, when a terrible pang shot 



MY DOCTOR AND NURSE. 385 

tlirough me, and I felt niyssif lifted up and laid 
down again on what felt like a bed of fir-branches. 
The sickness did not increase, and I lay there 
listening to some one moaning as if in pain, while 
I became conscious of a cuiious, swinging motion 
as I was being gently borne up and down and 
carried through the air. 

Then I seemed to fall into an uneasy sleep, and to 
lie and dream about Mr. Raydon burning my chest 
with red hot irons, and these changed to little nug- 
gets of gold which burnt me every time they touched 
my chest or back. At times the pain ceased, and 
then it began again, always with the swaying motion, 
while now and then, when the movement ceased, I 
began to dream of cool fresh water moistening my 
brow, and being trickled between my burning lips. 

That was a long, wearisome, painful dream, wliich 
lasted for Avhat felt like an indefinite time, to be 

succeeded by other dreams in which the terrible 

bear's head from Mr. Raydon's office was always pur- 
suing me, and the great moose's head looking on in 
a melancholy, pitiful way. 

And it did not appear strange to me that as I tried 
to escape and started on up and up a ravine where 
the sun scorched my brains, that the heads should 
be following without any bodies. There they always 
were, the bears head with the huge teeth waiting to 
seize me if I only halted for a minute, and the 
moose's head hurrying on to be there and pity me 
when I was caught. 

How I seemed to toil in terrible agony to get 
away, the sun burning, and the way up which I climbed 
growing more and more stony with precipices, down 

B B 



386 TO THE WEST. 

which I was always about to fall ! Then great rows 
of the heads of the mountain sheep came in my way 
with their large curled horns threatening to drive me 
back into the jaws of the grizzly bear, which was 
always close behind. It seemed hidden sometimes 
behind heaps of skins, but I always knew it was 
there, and its great muzzle came out again. 

I tried to run to climb further, but something held 
me back, and the burning on my head grew terrible. 
I was thirsty too, and I thought that the moose 
pitied me, aud would show me the way to water ; but 
it only looked at me mournfully till I awoke in the 
darkness, and lay wondering for a few minutes before 
I stretched out my hand and felt that I was in my 
bed, and as I lay theie, I suddenly saw in the dark- 
ness the shape of my door formed by four faint 
streaks of light which grew brighter, and directly 
after there was the sharp point of light where the 
keyhole was, near one side. 

It seemed very strange, and more so that the 
door should open directly after, and Mr. Raydon be 
standing there in his shirt and trousers carrying a 

candle. 

'' What does he want V I thought to myself in a 
confused way, as I saAv him come into our loom, and 
the light fell on Esau, who Avas not undressed, but 
lying on his bod with his mouth wide open. 

Suddenly he staited up, and Mr. Raydon raised 
his hand, and I heard him say, " >S'^ I " The next 
minute he was holding the candle over my bed, 
looking in on my face. 

'' What's the matter ? " I said ; " I'm not asleep ; " 
but it did not sound like my voice speaking. 



MY DOCTOR AND NURSE. 387 

It was Mr. Raydon s turn now, and he whispered 



to me- 



" Lie quite still, Mayne. Arc you in much pain ? " 
"No," I said. "I don't know. My shoulder 

aches." 

" Don t talk ; try and go to sleep again." 
I looked up at him in a confused, puzzled way, 
and as I looked his face began to grow misty, and 
the candle to burn more dimly, till both faded slowly 
away, and all was dark once more. 

I opened my eyes once more, and there was Mr. 
Raydon standing by me with a candle, and it was so 
faint that I could not be sure ; and so it was again 
and again as it seemed to me, and when I opened my 
eyes at last, the bedroom window was wide, the sun 
shining in, and bringing witli it the sweet lemon- 
scented odour of the pines, and Esau was seated 

there watching me. 

"Hnshi" he said, as I was opening my lips to 

speak. '' Mustn't talk." 

" Nonsense," I said ; " I want to know." 

I stopped there, for my voice puzzled me, and I 
lay wondering for a few moments, till, like a flash 
of the sunshine coming into my darkened brain, I 
recollected the blow, the report of the rifle, and 
Esau's cry, and knew that the rifle had gone off 
when he fell, and I was lying there badly wounded. 

" Mr. Raydon said you wasn't to speak a word," 
said Esau, softly ; and he stole out of the room so 
quietly that I knew he must be without his boots. 

A few minutes passed, and the door opened again, 
with Mr. Raydon coming in on tiptoe to advance and 

take my right hand within his left, and place a 



yj 



388 TO THE WEST. 

couple of fingers on my wrist. I smiled as he played 
the part of doctor like thi&, and he smiled back. 

"Don't talk," he said; "I'll do that, my lad. 
Come, this is better. Not so feverish as I expected. 
Just whisper when I ask a question. Feel in much 
pain ? 

" My shoulder aches and burns," I said. 

*' Yes ; it will for a time ; but that will soon go 
off. You remember now about the accident ? Yes ? 
That's right. You were a little delirious last night, 
and made me anxious, for we have no doctor here- 
abouts." 

" Don't want one," said Esau, softly. 

Mr. Raydon asked mo a few more questions, 
cautioned me not to speak much, and to lie quite 
still, and then left us together. 

Esau sat looking at me for a few minutes with his 
arms rested upon his extended knees. 

" 1 say, you've not to tfdk^ you know^ biit I i^^ay. I 

say, I am so sorry. Hush ! — no ! You mustn't say 

you know that, or anything else. I only want to tell 

you it was an accident. You do know, don't you ? " 

I nodded, and then lay back Avith my eyes closed ; 

the pain caused even by that slight movement being 
a2:onizincr. 

Dean saw it, and rose to moisten a sponge with 
cool water, and apply it to my temples, with the effect 
that the faint sensation coming on died away. 

" Don't — please don't try to move again," he 
whispered, piteously. " You don't know how it hurts." 

The idea of its hurting Esau sounded so comical 
to me in my weak state that I could not help smiling 

" That's right," he said ; " laugh again, and then 



MY DOCTOR AND NURSE. 389 

I shall know I needn't go and fetch liim. I say, do 
make haste and get better. Shall I tell you all about 
it? Don*t speak ; only say ' yes' and 'no' with your 
eyes. Keep 'em open if you mean yes, and shut 'em 
for no. Now then, shall 1 tell you ? " 

I kept looking at him iixedJy. 

" That means yes. Well, I was bringing the gun, 
when I tripped and fell and it went off, and I wished 
it had shot me instead." 

Esau gave a gulp here, and got up and began to 
walk up and down the room, pressing first one hand 
and then the other under his arms as if in pain from 
a cut at school with the cane ; and for some moments 
the poor fellow was suffering so from emotion that he 
could not continue. At last he went on in obedience 
to an eager look from my eyes. 

*' I run up just as he caught you, and tore off your 
things. Oh, it was horrid. I felt when I saw what 

T'd done, fiTid him bandaging you up, as if I'd killpd 

you. But you dont feel so bad now. You ain't 
going to die, are you ? Say you ain't." 

I kept my eyes fixed on his, forgetting in my 
excitement what I ought to have done, when a cry 
brought me to myself, and I closed my eyes sharply. 

" Ah, that's better," cried Esau, and kneeling down 
by my bed he went on telling me how, as soon as I 
was bandaged, Mr. Raydon cut two light poles and 
bound short pieces across thcni. Then on these he 
laid pine boughs, and I was lifted up, for them to 
convey me slowly down the ravine, and back to the 

Foit. 

" I say/' whispered Esau, '' I thought last night he 
meant to cheat us, and get all the gold for himself; 



390 TO THE WEST. 

but I don't think so now. Wish he liked me as 
much as he likes you. What? Do I think he 
does like you? Yes, I'm suie of It. He wan in a 
taking last night. And I say — ain't he quite a doctor 
too ? He could do anything, I believe. There, I 
mustn't talk to you any more, because you were to 
be kept quiet." 

It must not be imagined that Esau had kept on 
saying all the above to me rapidly, for one of these 
sentences was whispered very slowly now and then 
as I lay back feeling not much pain, but hot and 
feverish, and this change was noticed soon after by 
Mr. Raydon when he came into the room. 

" You have been letting him talk," he said, angrily, 
as soon as he had taken my hand. 

" That I ain't, sir," cried Esau, indignantly. 
" Never let him speak a word.'* 

" That's right. He must be kept very still," said 
our friend, and he hurriedly left the room. 

" Rather hard on a chap when he has been so 
particular," grumbled Esau. " Well, it was my doing, 
so I mustn't mind." 

He was still grumbling when our host re-entered 
with something in a cup which he gave me a little 
at a time, so that I should not have to move, and 
soon after he had left me my eyelids grew heavy, and 

T fell into a deep sleep^ which lasted till it was grow- 
ing dark, and I could only just make out Esau's head 
as he sat watching by my bed. 



CHAPTEH XXXVII. 



IN THE SPIUNG. 




SK anybody what is the most delicious 
thing in life, and sec what he or she 
will say. I do not believe any one 
will tell you what I do now. It is 
to have been dangerously ill, to be brought down 
very weak, to be getting better, and then to be 
carried or led out to sit in the sunshine of some 
bright genial morning. 

Ah ! that long breath of sweet life-inspiring air — 
those trees those flowers — the blue sky — the bark 
of that dog — those kindly words of inquiry — that all- 
round feeling of joy and delight at being out there 
once more ; the sensation which will bring the weak 
tears in your eyes for the simple reason that you are 
so happy. Yes, it is a pleasant thing to have been 
very ill, if only for the sake of the thankful sensation 

that conies the first time you go out once more in 
the bright sunshine. 

How delightful it waS; and what a long weary 
dream of misery I had passed through ! I hardly 
knew even then how bad I had been. When I spoke 
to Esau he used to screw his face up full of wrinkles, 



802 TO THE WEST. 

and shake his head, while Mr. Raydon was as 

reticent. 

*' Never mind that," he would say; "you are better 
now." 

I learned later though, that for several months 
he had been in great doubt of my recovery. My 
wound would not heal, consequent upon a ragged 
fragment of the rifle bullet remaining beneath a 
bone, and when at last it did come away, I was weak 
in tlie extieme, and, as Esau said, "You couldn't get 
a d )ctor when you liked out there." 

So there I lay all through the long dark days of 
the winter, listening sometime^ to the howling of 
the winds from the mountains, then to the beat and 
rusli of the rain, and then at my worst time wondering 
why everything was so quiet, and learning from 
Esau that we were snowed up deeply. 

I remember that he used to talk rapturously about 
the beauty of the sc^^^e -nrouud^ wifli tlto great pine- 
trees loaded down with snow, and the sun in the 
clear blue sky, making the crystals of ice glitter till 
his eyes ached. 

"And you \\on't get up and come and have a 
look," he said. "You are a fellow," 

'* Yes, I am a fellow," I replied. " Don't bother 
me, Esau. I want to go to sleep." 



" But you're always going to sleep " he cried ; " and 
so much sleep can't be good for you." 

All the same T passed through that long winter, 
and it seemed as if I never should be stron^j a^cain. 

But, as the old country folk say, " N over's a long 
day " ; and as the earth began to waken from its loner 
sleep, so did I, and at last I was dressed to sit by the 



IN THE SPRING. 393 

bonny log fire Esau kept up as if he meant to roast 
me. There came a day when I sat with my window 
open, listening to the roar of tlie river, thinking and 
ready to ask myself whether it had all been a dream. 
Then another day, when the sun was shining, and 
the scent of the pines came to where I sat ; and at last 
in the spring-time I was to go out for the first time. 
I had to lean on patient, constant Esau, and use a 
stick to ofet to where a chair had been set for me at 
the foot of a great Douglas pins, where the moss was 

gfilden greeu^ and the, barberry leaves bright with a 

purply bronze. The river ran foaming and splashing 
before me at the bottom of a slope, looking milky 
and dirty, bub down the rucks close by tumbled and 
sparkled one of the many tiny streams, and this was 
clear as crystal, and the brook flashed like diamonds 
in the bright sunshine. 

There was a great scarlet blanket thrown over the 
chair, ready to be drawn round me as soon as I had 
taken my seat; and as soon as Esau had safely 
piloted me there, looking serious as a judge all the 
time, he suddenly seemed to go mad, for he cut a 
curious caper, threw his cap high up in the air, and 
shouted " Hurrah." 

"There," he cried, as I lay back smiling and 
content, ''you just say you ain't getting well, and I'll 
pitch into you." 

"Tm not going to say it," [ said. "Oh, Esau, I 
do feel so weak, but so happy and well. I say 
though, don't shoot nie again." 

Esau's countenance changed. All the pleasure 
faded out, and he turned his back, and began walking 
slowly away. 



394 TO THE WEST. 

" Esau," I said, " don't go." 

"I must," he said, stopping short, hnt without 
trying to face me. ''Got to fetch your stoo. He 
said it was the best physic you could take " 

" But, Esau, I don't want it now ; Tm sorry I said 
that." 

"So am I; sooner ha' shot myself hundreds o' 
times. Wish I had shot myself dead instead, and 
then you wouldn't be able to jump on me." 

"It was very unkind," I said ; ''please forgive me." 

" All right, I'm going to fetch your stoo." 

He did not turn round, but walked away toward 

the gate of the palisade just as there was a fierce 

deep-toned barking, and Rough came bounding down 

toward my chair. 

" He'll knock me over," I thought, as I saw his 
gleaming teeth, and the thick pile of hair about his 
neck, a natural armour which had protected him in 

many -in pnconnter with wolf or hoar And for the 

moment it seemed as if the great animal would send 
me clean over as he charged wildly; but just as he 
was close to me he turned off, dashed away, came 
back, up and down, barking furiously, and ended by 
making a sudden stop, to stand there with his great 
muzzle laid in my lap, and his eyes looking earnestly 
up in mine. 

I placed my hand upon his head, and as I did so 
I could not help thinking how thin and white it 
was ; and this made me lie back recalling how bad 
I must have been, and how clever Mr. Raydon had 
been to save my life, tending me as he had just like 
a doctor. That made me think too of every one else 

the men's wives, who had waited on me and brou^^ht 



IN THE SPRING. 895 

me flowers ; Gray, who shot game; and above all of 
Quong and Esan, who had seemed to spend all their 
time in attending upon one who had been irritable, 
and as helpless as a baby. 

As I thought, my fingers played about the great 
head in my lap, pulling the long ears, stroking the 
muzzle, and all the time the eyes blinked up at me, 
and once there was a lonor drawn sis^h as of satisfac- 
tion, which made me ready to fancy that even the 
dog was glad to see me out again after my long, 
weary illness. 

All at once Rough raised his head and uttered a 
low, muttering growl, followed by a couple of short 
barks; and on looking round theie were Esau and 
Quong coming, the latter beariag a basin and a plate 
of bread. 

" Velly good soup," said Quong, eagerly. " Velly 
stlong. Quite leady." 

He piaffed the bosin on my knees, Rough drawing 
back a little, and looking as if it was hard work not 
to make a snatch at that cake and bear it off. But 
he had been well trained, and sat watching me 
patiently, content to catch the pieces thrown to him 
with a loud snap, while I partook of what Esau 
called my " stoo." 

It was very good, and *' so stlong," as Quong called 
it, that I felt as if I ought to feel the strength coming 
back into my weak arms and legs. 

"Dlink um allee up," said Quong; and I perse- 
vered and finished the contents of the basin, wdiich 
he then took, nodded at me, and then turned to the 
dog, who stood now on all fours and barked at him 
fiercely. 



896 TO THE WEST. 

" Hey ? *' cried Quong. " You say watitee allee 
bone left ? " 

There was a peal of furious barks here. 

" Aliee light. You come long. Velly good dog." 

Rough uttered another hoarse bay, and went off 
after the little Chinaman, looking so big by his side 
that I could not help thinking of what the conse- 
quences might have been if they had proved enemies 
instead of friends. 

*' Well, Esau/' I said, " I'm a long time growing 
well." 

'* Oh, I don't know. You'ra getting on now fast. 
I say, do you ever think about that gold now ? " 

" Oh, yes," I replied, with a shudder; " often." 

" Well," he said, in an ill used tone, " you needn't 
think of the accident too. For it was an accident, 
you know." 

*' Yes, we've talked about that times enough, all 
those weary months." 

"Yes, it was tu-ing, and it put a stop to all the 
hunting and shooting we might have had. But it s 

been good as well as bad. Yau missed lots of bad 
weather, and cold, and snow." 

" What's the day of the month ? " I said. 

" Day of the month ? I dunno. End of March, 
they say, and it's going to be line weather now." 

**Has Mr. Raydon ever said anything to you 
about the gold ? " 

" No, never a word. But I say, it do seem a pity 
not to get more of it, don't it ? " 

" I don't know," I replied. " I want strength, not 
gold. How long will it be before Mr. and Mrs. John 
get here ? " 



IN THE SPRING. 397 

"Ah, that's what I want to know," cried Esau. 

"I was thinking about that this morning; leastwise 
I wasn't thinkinsj about them, but about mother. 

Wonder what she'll say to me when she knows ? " 

" Knows what ? " 

*' 'Bout me shooting you. She will be wild, for 
she was a deal fonder of you than she was of me." 

'* Nonsense, Esau!" I cried. " Why, she used to 
talk to me about you for hours " 

*' Dessay she did. But, I say, do make haste and 
get well before the Imlians come again. Gray says 
they'll be here soon with loads of skins that they've 
shot and trapped in the winter," 

Our conversation was interrupted by the coming 
of Mr. Raydon. 

*' Ah, Mayne," he said ; "that's better. You must 
keep that up every day when it's fine. Fresh air 
and the scent of our pines form the finest strengthen- 
ing medicine a sick man can have." 

He stopped chatting to me for some time, and at 
last I ventured upon the topic which interested both 
Esau and myself. 

" How long do I think it will be before the travel- 
lers get across to us ? Hah ! that's a poser, my lad, 
So much depends upon my sister's health, and her 
ability to travel. Of course they have been resting 
during the worst time. However, I hope they will 
not be here till you are thoroughly on your legs 
again." 




CHAPTER XXXVIIT. 




"DO I LOOK FORTUNATE?" 

S the time glidod on I used to be quite in 
des]);iir. 

" I don't get any stronger, Esau," I 
used to pay, pettishly. 

"What? Why, look at you! "he'd cry. " On y 
t'other day you was walking with a stick and a 
rrutf^h " 

" I was not/' I said, indignantly. " I never had a 
crutch." 

" That you did^ sir," he said, with a chuckle ; " and 
now you've chucked 'cm both away and goes alone." 

" But my legs feel so weak, and ache so directly." 

"Tchah : What o' that! Why, only t'other day 
they used to double up like an old two foot rule, or 
a knife with the spring broke. You're coming all 
right enough. I say, I want to talk to you." 

He gave a sharp look round as we stood beside the 
stream where it entered the river the stream up 
which we had found the gold, and to whose bank we 
had Come to catch trout with rods and lines of our 
own manufacture, and grasshoppers for bait. 

I had been fishin^:^, but after taking three decent 



"DO I LOOK FORTUNATE?" 399 

trout, I had lain dowa wearied out, and now Esau 
squatted down bj me, with his rod across his knees, 

" I say,'* he whispered, " what about that gold up 
yonder ? " 

" Well, what about it ? " 

" Don't you never think about it a deal ? " 

" Sometimes. Do you ? " 

" Always. I can t get away from it. Seems as if 
something's always tempting me to go and get it." 

** But you cannot," I said, sbarply. '' We gave 
our word to Mr. Raydon." 

" Yes, that's the worst of it. I can't think how a 
fellow can be so stupid." 

"Let it go, and don't think about it." 

" That's what I want to do, but I can't help my- 
self, and I'm always wanting to get lots of it, and be 
rich." 

" Rubbish ! " I cried, testily. 

"Gold ain't rubbish/' said Esau, gruffly. "Of 
course I should give you- half." 

"We promised Mr. Raydon not to touch that gold 
any more," I said ; "so don't talk or think about it. 
Promise me." 

" I'll promise not to talk about it," he replied ; 
"but it's no use to promise not to think about it, 
because it will come. Why, I dream about it every 
night." 

" Then you nuist not," I said. " I was talking to 
Mr. Raydon last night about what is to be done 
when Mr. John comes." 

" Well, what does he say ? Anything about the 
gold ? " 

*'No," I cried, fiercely. "Of course you think 



400 TO THE WEST. 

about it if you are always talking of it. He says 
that be tbinks the best tliins; will be for Mr. John 
to have some land lower down the river at a place 
we passed; that there are twenty or thirty acres of 
good rich soil, and that as he will have us with him, 
we must learn to use axes and help him to clear the 
land, and plant it with fruit trees, and build a house 
on the clearing." 

'* Yes ; that's all right enough, only the trees take 



so long to bear. 



>j 



tf 



" That he will help us with different things till we 
can manage alone; and that before many years are 
gone we can make ourselves quite a good home. 

"Oh!" ejaculated Esau. ''But then that will 
take a long time, and you won*t be able to work 
much, and I don't think Mr. John Dempster will, 
not being strong, and all the time there's enough gold 
up '■ 

'Will you hold your tongue?" I cried, angrily. 
" Do you want i\)e to hit you ? " 

"If you like," he said, grinning. "Don't think you 
could hurt me much." 

" You coward I " I cried. " Wait till I get strong 
ao-ain." 

"I shall be precious glad," said Esau, "for Td a 
deal rather you gave me one or two cracks than kept 
on saying the things you do sometimes. My I how 
you have given it me ever since you have been ill ! 
It has made you raspy." 

I winced a little at this^ for I felt that I had been 
horribly irritable. 

"I cant help thinking about the gold, but I won't 
say gold no more as long as I live." 



"DO I LOOK FORTUNATE?" 401 

I could not help laughing at this earnest delivery, 
and Esau showed his teeth. 

" There, I don't care," he said. " I'm happy enough 
here if you'll get well. But I do wish old Gunson 
knew about it." 

I looked sharply at Esau, for these words of his 
impressed me. I had often wished that Gunson 
knew of what we had found, for I thought that 
perhaps he was struggling on without a bit of good 
fortune. The thoughts passed from my mind directly, 
as Esau began to make casts with his line here and 
there, as if fishing in the grass. 

"Well, I don't mind," he said. " Turn farmer, eh ? 
— and plant trees, and cut trees down, and build a 
house. All right. It will be good enough, and you 
and me will go and shoot and fish. I shall like it. 
Shall we have old Quong ? " 

*'I suppose so, if he'll stay. There, let^s go on 
fishing, and take back some trout for Mr. Raydon's 
tea. I do feel so idle and helpless. Do you think 
he ever feels that we are staying too long ? " 

*' Dunno," said Esau. " I should if I was him." 

These words made me feel very low-spirited, and 
that night I broached the subject to Mr. Raydon, 
apologizing for being there so helpless and weak, and 
ending by asking him if I had not better go down to 
the mouth of the river again. 

He looked at me searchingly. 

"Tired of this place ?" he said. 

" Oh no," I replied. " I have been very happy 
here." 

" Then why do you talk of going ? " 

'* Because I feel as if I must be a burden to you." 

c c 



f) 



402 TO THE WEST. 

" Indeed 1 Well, suppose I say go, and you mal^e 
your way back along the river very slowly, for you 

* 

are in a miserably weak state '? " 

" Yes, sir ; but I am getting better now. 

" Yes, I know ; but suppose, as soon as you are 
gone, my sister and her husband appear, what am I 
to say to them ? " 

** I had not thought of that,'* I replied. 

"But you see I had. But come, Mayne, be frank 
with me. You have some otlier reason for wanting 
to go." 

He looked at me so searcliingly that I coloured, 
for I could feel my cheeks burning, 

" No, sir," I said ; " no other reason." 

" Not gold-hunting ? " 

"No; indeed, no." 

" But you and Dean have been talking about your 
discovery a good deal." 

*'I — I think not sir" I said hesitntino-Iv ** We 

have talked about it." 

"And what a pity it is for a fortune to be lying 
there untouched ? " 

" Dean thought something of the kind, sir. I did 
not." 

" Ha 1 " he said, as he again fixed me with his eyes. 
"No, Mayne, you must not think of going away. 
You have not exhausted my stock of hospitality 

yet." 

Perhaps it was fancy, I said to myself, but it 
certainly seemed to me during the next few days, 
whenever I went out for a good long stroll with 
Esau, some one seemed to be watching us. 

One day it was Gray who encountered us some- 



"DO I LOOK FORTUNATE?" 40 



n 



where on the mountain-side ; another day it was one 
of the men ; and again^ on another, Mr. Raydon him- 
self, whose presence was announced by the great dog, 
who came bounding up, to be followed in a few 
minutes by his master. 

He did not stay long, but as soon as he was gone 
I found that my feelings were shared by Esau 
himself. 

" I say," he growled, " are they afraid we are going 
to lose ourselves ? '' 

« Why ? " I asked. 

"Because whenever we come right away into the 
woods, they send that dog to scent us out." 

"Yes; they generally send somebody/' I said, 
thoughtfully. 

"Do you know why?" whispered Esau. 

I glanced at him, but did not answer. 

"It's because the chiefs afraid we shall go up 
yonder trying for gold." 

"And he does not trust us," I said to myself, 
as I felt that Esau must be right ; and the un- 
comfortable feeling of being suspected seemed to 
increase. 

I was thinking about this a good deal, and had 
made up my mind to ask Mr. Raydon if he thought 
I could be so dishonourable, when we neared the 
Fort, and I was startled back from my musings which 
were carrying me on through tlie interior, when Esau 
uttered a cheery hail. 

" What's the matter ? " I said. 

" Can't you see ? Look I " he cried. 

"Gunson!" I exclaimed; and sure enough there 
he was, coming slowly towards us, looking very old 



404 TO THE WEST. 

and careworn, and as if he bad gone through a great 
deal of trouble since we parted in the autumn. 

*'Why, my lad/' he cried, shaking bands ^\itb me 
warmly, '* you look quite thin and white. Been 
ill ? " 

'*Yes," I said, as I grasped his hand warmly. 

" Fever ? " 

" No," I said, hesitatingly ; *' an accident." 

"Why don't you tell him?" said Esau, sturdily, 
''1 shot him." 

"You shot ]>im?" 

"Yes," I said, quickly ; "be let the rifle slip out 
of his hand somehow, and the ball bit me." 

" I'm not surprised," cried Gunson, in a tone full 
of anger and contempt. 

" Don't say any more about it," I cried. " It was 
an accident, and I'm getting better fast Tell me 
about what you have been doing." 

Gunson laughed. 

"Walking, wading in rivers, washing sand, climb- 
ing mountains, exposed to all sorts of weather, half- 
starved, half-frozen, and all to get the tempting 
gold.'^ 

"No luck then?" said Esau, eagerly, 

" Not a bit, my Jad." 

" What, ain't you found gold at all ? " 

" Oh, yes, in scores of places, but always where 
it would cost thirty shillings to earn a pound's worth. 
Not profitable work, eh ? " 

Esau glanced at me, and I at Esau, the same ' 
thought in both our minds that we could, in a 
couple of hours' walk from where we were, show him 

the wearied out prospector an ample supply. 



"DO I LOOK FORTUNATE? 405 

" If I only could tell him," I thought, as I recalled 
how generous and kind he had always been to us. 
But it was impossible, and I darted a look at Esau 
which he understood, for he nodded at me in a 
curious way, setting me thinking that I must speak 
to him seriously again about our duty to Mr. Raydon. 
I had hardly thought this when I saw the latter 
coming towards us. 

"Ah, Mr. Gunson," he said, with a sharp, keen 
glance, "you have kept your word, then, and come 
back." 

"Yes, Tve come back, and shall be glad of a day 
or two's rest." 

"You are welcome," replied Mr. Raydon. "Well, 
have you been very fortunate ? " 

'* What a question to ask me ! " said Gunson ; " the 
most unlucky man that ever lived ! Do I look 
fortunate ? " 

" No," said Mr. Ra3'don^ smiling ; " far from it. 

There, come up to my place, and let me hear what 

you have been doing." 

As we approached the strangers' quarters, Quong 

made his appearance with his eyes twinkling. 

"Plenty flesh tea," he cried. "Plenty new blead." 
"Hullo, ray Celestial friend," said Gunson, smiling 

at the eager-looking little fellow. " Did you see me 



coming i 



?" 



" No, Not see. Glay tell me Mr. Gunson come, 
and make tea dilectly, and cook bacon." 

"Ready to come on with ma now, Quong ? " said 
Gunson. " I'm going up the western part." 

Quong stared. 

" What 1 Go away ? No. Stop allee long here " 



)> 



406 TO THE WEST. 

" That's right, my lad. Don't leave good quarters. 

Been washing for gold lately ? 

" Eh ? Washoe washee gole ? Too much piecy 
make work. Cook along big meat. No go out at 

all. You likee likee flesh blead, not blead high." 
" Indeed, it will be a treat,'* said Gunson, going 

into the place with Mr. Kaydon, while we kept back 
until he had finished his meal 

" I say," said Esau, as we walked about the en- 
closure, " can't little Quong tell fibseys." 

"That's what I was thinking," I replied. "Why, 
I've met him twice up the river trying for gold." 

" Oh. I've seen him lots of times. He gets awav 
when he has done his work, looking as innocent as 
you please, and all the time he's hunting for gold. 
I say, you see if Mr. Haydon don't keep an eye on 
us for fear we should tell old Gunson. My ! wouldn't 
he like to know of our find. I can't understand how 
it is that he who knows all about it should be so 
unlucky, and you " 



" We," I said. 

"Well, we, then — should be so lucky, and find so 
much. Danno, though; it hasn't brought us much 
luck as yet." 





CHAPTER XXXIX. 

QUONG IS MISSING. 

T was all done in a quiet, unobtrusive way, 
but it seemed plain to me tbat Mr. Raydon 
did try to keep us apart, or under his 
eye, during Gunson's stay. 

This was not for Iouq^. The man seemed a o'ood 
deal changed, and as if dissatisfied at being so very 
unsuccessful ; and during his visit the temptation was 
very strong upon me to give him a hint as to where 
he might go and find all that he desired. And 
about this time I found that Esau looked strange, 
and avoided me a good deal, going about as if he 
had something on his mind, and I was afraid to ask 
him what. 

''Going tomorrow morning?" said Mr. Raydon, 
as Gunson made the announcement, "That is 
rather soon." 

"Well, yes, it is soon," replied Gunson; "but I 
may be coming back." 

"Yes, of course," said Mr. Raydon, giving him a 
quick look. " You may be coming back." 

These seem trifling words, but they made an 

impression upon me at the time, and I thought 



408 TO THE WEST. 

about them a good deal afterwards. Tn fact, T 
thought of them that night. 

It came on very dark, and I was standing just 
outside our place, when I lieard a step, and directly 
after Gunson came up slowly and thoughtfully. 

" Who's that ? " he cried sharply. 

I spoke, and he took my arm. 

*' Come and have a stroll out here," he said ; and 
he led me out through the gateway and down toward 
the river. 

It seemed to me as if he w^ere waiting for me to 
talk to him, for he was very silent ; and at last, as 
I suggested that it was growing late, he turned back 
toward the Fort, wliose gates we had just reached, 
when I suddenly became aware of a figure standing 
there. 

'' Mr. Eaydon," I said. 

" Yes. Been having a walk ? " 

"Down as far as the river/' replied (runson 

" By the way," he continued sharply, " what should 
you say to my trying your streams about here ? " 

I saw Mr. Raydon start slightly, but his voice 
sounded quite calm as he replied 

"That you had better follow out your original 
plans/' 

" You would not recommend me to try ? " 

"Decidedly not." 

We all went in, and after sitting for a time, 
Gunson rose to go to rest. 

Quong had a famous breakfast ready next morn- 
ing, of which I too partook ; and an hour later we 
saw Gunson once more on his way, Mr. Raydon 
accompanying us, till with a careless wave of the 



QUONG IS MISSING. 409 

hand the prospector went off, and we returned to 

the Fort. 

That visit seemed to do me good. It was as if I 
had had a fillip, and during the next few days I felt 
a return of my old vigour — a feeling which made me 
restless and eager to be out in the sunshine all day 
long. I found myself eating, too, almost ravenously, 
and my sleep at nights, instead of being broken and 
feverish, grew to be long and restful. But somehow 
I did not feel happy, for Mr. Raydon, though always 
pleasant and polite, was less warm, and he looked at 
me still in a suspicious way that made me feel 
uncomfortable. 

In other respects eveiything went on as usual, till 
one day, about a fortnight after Gunson*s departure, 
Mr. Raydon said to me at breakfast — 

" Do you feel strong enough to go for a week's 
journey ? " 

"Oh yes," I said eagerly, for I was beginning to 
long for something in the way of change. 

" It means walking every step of the way," he 
said, smiling at my eagerness. 

*' Oh, I can walk again well now," I said. ** Dean 
and I were climbing up the first west mountain 
yesterday that one," I said, pointing out of the 
window. '' I don't know how many hours we were, 
but it was dark when we came back." 

"Well then, we'll try. I shall take Gray to try 
and lighten our loads a little, but we shall not go 
very far down the river." 

"You are going down the river?" I said, as I 
saw Esau prick up his ears. 

"Yes; I have two or three spots in my mind's eye 



410 TO THE WEST. 

that would be suitable for a home for my sister, and 
I want to see if they will do. Perhaps you noticed 
them as you came — places that you would naturally 
pick out for campiug as evening came on." 

"I can remember several at the mouths of little 
streams, or below falls," I said excitedly. " One or 
two were quite like bits of parks, with great sweep- 
ing branched pine-trees growing near," 

" Good memory, Mayne," he said, smiling. " Well, 
I have made my arrangements. Your Chinaman 
shall go with us to cook, and v^e will select three or 
four spots ; and afterwards, when these travellers 
come, we can take them to see the selection, and 
they can choose which they like." 

" How soon shall you start, sir ? " I said. 

"This morning. It is a leisure period for me. 
No Indians are likely to come for some time ; and I 
can leave my people to take care of the place till 

■we return. Von feel thnt yon can mnnggfi the 

walking ? " 

" Oh yes," I cried. " I am getting stronger every 

day." 

"That's right. Dean, my lad, fetch Quong, and 
let's see what sort of a load of flour, tea, and sugar 
we can pack up for him. I can easily supply our 
little camp with meat.'* 

" Then there will be some hunting and shooting 
too ? " I said, as Esau hurried out to find Quong. 

" Oh yes, for the larder," replied Mr. Raydon, speak- 
ing more in his old fashion now. " Come, you are 
beginning to look quite yourself, my boy. I was 
beginning to be afraid I should have nothing but a 
broken down invalid to show my sister." 



{i 



QUONG IS MISSING. 411 

I feel more like I did/' I said, with my cheeks 
flushing. 

" Be thankful then, my boy, for you had a very 
narrow escape. Let me see; we must not overload 
ourselves, but I must have powder and bullets, as 
well as my rifle. A blanket each, of course, and 

our knives. That will be nearlv all we need take, 
unless you lads bring a line or two and try for some 
trout. 



j> 



Hg began chatting then ab3ut Mr. John and his 
sister, and of how great a change it would be for 
her from a London life. 

*' But health is the first consideration," he said, 

smiling. "A palace is little more than an infirmary 

to a sick person, and out here a snug cottage such as 

we can soon run up will become a palace to one 

who recovers health. Isn't Master Dean a long time 

gone ? Oh, here he is. Well, where is Quong ? " 
"Can't find him anywhere, sir, nor his bundle 

neither." 

" What ? Absurd ! He cannot have gone out. 
He cooked the breakfast. Did any one see him 
go?" 

"I asked several of the men and women, sir, and 
they had not seen him." 

" Asleep somewhere perhaps, as he feels that his 
work is done. Here, we must find him, or he will 

throw my arrangements all wrong, and we shall 
have to wait till another day. It's a pity I did not 
speak last night, but I was not sure then." 
" ril soon find him," I said. 

"Yes, do, my lad, while I see to the rifle and 
ammunition." 



412 TO THE WEST. 

" Come along, Esau," I said ; and he followed me 
as I huiTied out. 



"Well, where are you going?'* grumbled Esau. 
"I suppose you are very clever, but 1 should like to 
know how you are going to find him 1 " 

"But you have not searched everywhere." 

"IVe searched everywhere that he was likely to 
be," replied Esau. 

I stopped bhort, thinking as to which direction 
we had better take. 

" Here, I know where he is," cried Esau excitedly, 

" Yes 1 Where ? " 

" Gone up one of the streams to try for gold on 
the sly. You see if he don't find out our bit one of 
these days." 

" Perhaps he has gone for that," I said thoughtfully. 

"I feel sure of it. He has been away lots of 
times for a bit, and I shouldn't wonder if he is 

getting that littlf^ physio bottlf^ of his pretty full." 

" He had better not let Mr. Ray don know of it. 
He'd be in a towering rage/' I said. " Here, let's 
hunt him out, and put a stop to it." 

" All rioht," said Esau. " Here Ave are then. 
Which way shall we go ? — east west, north, or south, 
or half-way between any two of 'em. I'm willing; 
don t make no difference to me." 

I stood and stared at him, for now T saw first how 
absurd my proposal was, and how unlikely we were 
to find Quong if we had really gone off on such a 
mission. Esau grinned. 

" I say, 'tain't so easy, is it ? 

I made no reply, but stood thinking, and trying to 
find a solution to the difficulty. 



}> 



QUONG IS MISSING. 413 

"Seems to me," said Esau, "that about the best 
way of finding this little gentleman is to go and sit 
down by his fire till he comes, for he goes off so 
quietly, and he may be anywhere now/' 

'* Let's look round again/' I said, " and if we cannot 
find him we had better go and tell Mr. Raydon." 

It was humiliating, but the only thing to do ; and 
after asking at every cottage in the enclosure without 
effect, I turned to go back to Mr. Raydon's quarters, 
just as we saw the man Gray going in that direction. 

"Why, he might knon^," I said, hurrying my pace 
so that we entered almost at the same time, but too 
late to question him. 

"Well," said Mr. Raydon, *'have you found 
him ? " 

"No," I replied; and thea turning quickly to 
Gray, who had not yet spoken — " Have you seen 
anything of Quong ? " 

" Yes ; he is at the west valley, I met him going 
there." 

" The west valley ? " said Mr. Raydon, starting and 
looking excitedly at the speaker. " What was he 
doing there ? " 

" Gone to join Mr. Gunson and a party of men I 
suppose," said Gray, slowly. 

"Mr. Gunson? Back?" I said wonderingly, but 
with a chill of dread spreading through me as I 
spoke. " What is he doing there ? " 

" Busy with the others. They have set up camp, 
and are washing for gold." 

I glanced at Mr. Raydon, whose eyes were fixed on 
me, and I saw a furious look of anger gathering in 
his face, while Esau backed slowly toward the door. 



414 TO THE WEST. 

" This is your doing, sir. Here, you stop I don't 
sneak away like that, and leave your companion in 
the lurch." 

" Wasn't going to sneak away," said Esau, surlily. 

" Go away then, you miserable coward. AYell, 
Mayne Gordon, I hope you are satisfied. Is this 
your gratitude ? " 

I fully expected these words, but I was not pre- 
pared to answer him, and in the rush of his indignant 
accusation niy defence was swept down, and I could 
only stammer out — 

"You are mistaken, sir." 

" No," he cined, " I am not mistaken. I told you 
when you made that unlucky discovery I wished to 
keep all the wild gold-seeking scoundrels away from 
my peaceful happy valley ; and in spite of all I have 
done to welcome you for my sister's sake, you give 
me evil for good." 

"Indeed you are wrongs sir; I have not told a 

soul," I cried. 

" Bah !" said Mr. Kaydon, furiously. " How can I 

think otherwise, when I see you holding half-secret 
meetings with that man Gunson, who returns in 
force to destroy this place ? Well, my lad, I wish you 
joy of your share, but, mark my words, this gold- 
seeking is miserable gambling, the work of men who 
will not see that the real way to find gold is in 
genuine honest work. Take the gold-seekers all 
round, and they would have made more of the 
precious metal by planting corn than by this digging 
and washing in the river-beds." 

" Then you will not believe me, sir ? " 

" I cannot, my lad, after what I have seen," he said. 



QUONG IS MISSING. 415 

"Your conduct has not seemed to me manly and 
frank." 

" I have tried to be, sir," I cried. 

" And failed, boy. The temptation of the gold has 
proved to be too much for you " 

I stood silent now, for I could not speak. I wanted 
to say a great deal, but there was a swelling in my 
throat a hot feeling of indignation and misery com- 
bined kept me tongue-tied, and above all there was 
a guilty feeling that he was just. 

'* As for you," Mr. Raydon continued, turning to 
Esau, " I shall not waste words ujDon you. Of course 
you agreed with your companion, but you would 
both have done better foi yourselves as lads, and 
earned better positions in life, by being faithful to 
me, than by letting yourselves be led away by this 

miserable temptation." 



" I ain't done nothing," said Esau ; " I only " 

" That will do/' criod Mr. Raydon^ fiercely, cutting 

him short. " Now go." 

" All right, sir," said Esau ; and now I found my 
tongue again. 

" Yes, Esau, we had better go," I said, bitterly. 

"Mr. Raydon will some day find out how unjust he 
has been to us." 

" That will do," cried Mr. Raydon, sternly. " No 
hypocrisy, sir. Once for all, 1 know that you gave 
Gunson either full particulars or hints, such as 
enabled him to bring a gang to this peaceful 
place." 

" Well, if you won't let a fellow speak," began 

Esau. 

"Silence, sir!" cried Mr. Raydon, as I moved 



» 



416 TO THE WEST. 

towards the door. "And you, Gordon, where are 
you going ? 

*'I don't know, sir/' I said. 

** Then I do. You are going to join that wild crew 
up at the gold washings." 

" I was going to see and tell Mr. Guason of what 
had happened, sir." 

" Exactly. Then I forbid it. You shall not go." 



" You ain't got no right to keep us here if we 
want to go," said Esau, who was now losing his 
temper fast. 

'' Indeed 1" said Mr. Raydon. 

" You Avon't believe in a fellow — I mean this 
fellow," continued Esau; '*and you dont believe Mr. 
Gordon, so I'm going straight up to Mr. Gunson to 
see if he will, and I'll trouble you to hand over that 
gold we found that day." 

*' Esau 1 " I cried, angrily. 

" Well, you won't speak out, so I must. Come on. 
Much obliged for all you've done in keeping us, sir, 
and good-bye." 

"Gray,'* said Mr. Raydon, sharply. 

"Yes, sir." 

"See that these lads do not leave the Fort till 
I give them permission. When you go off duty 

Hanson is to take your post." 

" What ? " cried Esau, as I felt my cheeks burning 
with indignation, " ain't we to be allowed to go out ? " 

" Am I to put them in the block-house, sir ? " said 

Gray. 

" No ; they can occupy the strangers' quarters, but 

they are not to pass the gates. That will do. Go ! " 



CHArXER XL. 



INOPrOllTUNi: ARUIVALS. 




HARDTjY remeinbor liow I left Mr. 
Rciydon's office, but I do recollect seeing 
the bear's bead grinning at me, and that 
of the moose o^zmj; at me in its "vveak, 
sorrowful way. My head felt hot, and I was bitterly 
angry ; so that when Gray went from ns without 
speaking, after leading us to tlu sti angers' quarters, it 
only wanted a few v\oids fioni Esau to make me turn 

upon him fiercely. 

'* Look here," he said, " this ain't England, and 
there's no police and madgistrits about, so I'm not 
going to stand it. He ain't everybody. I'm off." 

I said. *' Don't you 
think you've done mischief enough by betraying it to 
Mr. Gunson ? " 

"Oh, coijie, I like tl at," cried Esau. "That's 
pleasant, that is. Say it was me, eh? Why, you 
know you told him." 

" I told him ? " 

"Well, he coaxed it out of you when he had you 

all by himself." 
" Esau ! " 

D D 



*' To the gold-washings ? 



418 TO THE WEST. 

''There, don't shout at me. I dent wonder. I've 

been sometimes so that I couldn't hardly bear myself 

for ■svantiii^ to tell somebody ; and it was a pity for 
all that ijojd to oo boi2o-i]H and lis not o'ct a share." 

o t~t oo O' o 

*' Then you believe I told Mr. Gunson ?" 

" Course I do. I didn't ; and there was no one else 
knew where it was except the captain, and of course 
he wouldn t." 

"You are saying that to aggravate me. Esau, 
once more, do you believe I told Mr. Gunson ? " 

He looked at me and lauirhed. 

"Why don't you answer?" I cried, angrily. "Do 
you believe I toJd Mr. Gunson?" 

" Why, of course I do. What's the good of making 
a fuss over it with me ? Should ha' thought you 
might ha trusted me by this time." 

I sank back on one of the benches staring at him, 
feeling weak and hopeless. 

"Don't look like that," cried Esau; "I didiVt 
want to hurt your feelings. It was quite natural. 
Mr. Gunson was our friend before Mr. Raydon was ; 
and it was your duty to do him a good turn if you 
could. Who's Mr. Raydon that he's to have every- 
thing his way ? If he don't want gold, other folks 
do. I do lots ; and I'm going up now to get my 
share." 

''Then you renlly believe, T told ?" 

" Why, of course I do. Why, how could you help 
it ? Seems queer to Mr. Raydon, because he has 
been very kind ; but it would have seemed queerer to 
poor Mr. Gunson. Why, as mjther used to say, my 
heart quite bled for him when he came back so tired- 
looking and shabby, after hunting for months and 



INOPPORTUNE ARRIVALS. 419 

finding nothing. I'd ha' told him directly if I hadn't 
promised you I wouldn't. There, don't be in such a 
fidge about it; you couldn't act square to both of 
them." 

" Then it's of no use for me to keep on saying I 
did not tell/' I said, gloomily. 

" Not a bit ; and I'm precious glad you did tell the 
poor fellow. I don't like him much, and he never 
liked me much ; but he often helped me, and I'd 
help him. Now then, I want to talk about what 
we're going to do. What do 70U say ? Do speak. 
I hate to see you sit mumchance, saying nothing." 

" There's nothing to do/' I said, sadly, " only 

wait/' 

*'What, like a prisoner? I'm going up to that 
place where the gold is, to get mine and mother's 
share, and you're coming too for yours." 

"I'm not/' I said, through my set teeth. 

« What ? " 

" I wouldn't stir from here now for all the gold in 
the woild." 



" Why, you're talking madness. We come out 
here to make our fortunes, and there's our fortunes 
waiting to be made. The door's open and the gate's 
open; and though Mr. Raydon talked big, he dare 
not try to stop us. Come on." 

" I tell you nothing should make me stir from here 
now, till Mr. Raydon knows the truth." 

"Yah! What's the good o keeping on with all 
that make-believe ? He knows the truth now/' 

I leaped up as if stung. 

" That's right. Come on." 

My voice was very husky as I said 



420 TO THE WEST. 

"IVe told you what I meant to do, and you keep 
on insulting nxe/' 

"Don't talk stuff. What's the o^ood of making all 
that fuss ? You couldn't help telling Mr. Gunson, I 
know that, and I've told you I know it. Of course 
Mr. Raydon don't like it, but he can't help himself. 
Now then. You're in disgrace here, but you won't be 
up at the camp ; and when his bit of temper's past, 
Mr. Raydon will be sorry for what he said, and ask 
us to come and look at the piece of land after all." 

"While he kept on speaking, my temper, which had 
always remained irritable through my illness, kept on 
rising, and I stood there trying to fight it down, but 
in vain, for it was very rapidly getting the mastery. 
It was as if something hot was rising within me, 
ready to boil over if it grew a little hotter, and it 
soon did. 

" There, it*s all right," cried Esau, catching me by 
the arm. '* Never mind our things; w^'il fetch them 
another time. Let's be off at once." 

" Let go of my arm," I said, hoarsely. 

" Shan't. Don't be stupid. You ain't been your- 
self since you were hurt, and I'm going to think for 
you, and do what's right. Come along." 

" Let go of my arm ! *' I said again, in a low 
menacing tone. 

"No, nor I shan't let go of your arm; and you 
ain't going to frighten me, Mayne Gordon, because 
I'm ever so much the stronger now, so come along." 

" Let — go — of my arm ! " I said, in quite a whisper, 
as Esau hauled me towards the door. 

" S-h-a-r-n-'t 1" cried Esau. "You're going along 
with me up to those gold-washingb. Come along. 



INOPPORTUNE ARRIVALS. 421 

It*s of no use for you to struggle, I'm too much for 

you Oh!" 

In my rage at my inability to reason ^yith him, I 
suddenly doubled my fist and struck him full in the 
face, and as he uttered a cry of pain, he started back ; 
but it was only for a moment, and then he flew at 
me angrily, so that the next minute we two sworn 
fiiends, who had suffered so much together, were 
fighting hard, giving and taking blows, now down, 
now up, and each growing hotter and more vindictive 
as we fouf^ht Esau with determination, I with de- 



spair, for I felt myself growing weaker and weaker, 
and knew that in a few minutes I should be hopelessly 
beaten. But still in my blind fury I kept on, and 
I was just in the act of delivering a furious blow 
when I heard voices, and some one uttered a cry of 
horror. 

The struggle was over, for we two started back 

from our contest^ F.^au ashamed of hig rage^ and T 

feeling utterly crushed ; for there before me, as far as 
I could see them in my half blinded state, giddy as I 
was with weakness and blows, stood Mr. Raydon, and 
with him the people I would have given the world 
then not to have met in such a state — the three 
travellers, who had ended their long weary journey 
that unfortunate morning. 

Mrs. Dean ran to EvSau, and flung her arms about 
his neck, as Mr. Raydon said angrily 

" What is the meaninor of this ? " 

No one answered, and for a few moments the 
silence was to me terrible. Then Mr. Raydon spoke 
af^ain. 

*' Come back to the house," he said ; and I saw 



422 TO THE WEST. 

him take his sister s hand, draw it through his arm, 
and lead her away. 

But Mr. John, who looked brown and wonderfully 
changed, hung back, and held out his hand. 

" Oh, Mayne," he said, sadly, " I did not expect to 
come and find you like this. What is the meaning 
of it all ? " 

" Don't, mother ; do be quiet," cried Esau just then. 
*' He hit me first." 

" Oh, but, Esau, my boy, my boy 1 " 

''Well, what's the good o* crying? Don't; you're 
crying all down my neck. Be quiet. How are you ? 
There. Now do leave off hanging on me. I want 
to go and have a wash." 

" Oh, Mr. Gordon," cried the poor little woman, 
as Esau ungraciously shook himself free, " how could 
you hit Esau first and you such friends ? " 

" Because he v/as trying to make me out a black- 
guard/' I cripd. 

" W^ell, I couldn't help it," cried Esau ; " I thought 
it was true," 

" But you'll shake hands with me, my dear, after 
I've come all these hundreds and thousands of miles 
— shake hands and say you're sorry you hit Esau 
first." 

"Oh, do be quiet, mother," cried Esau angrily, 
" What's the good o' making such a fuss ? We fell 
out and had a bit of a fight, and it's all over, and 
I'm very sorry, and if he'll shake hands, there's 
mine." 

"Not till you tell me you don't believe I did 
that," I cried fiercely. 

"Well, there then, I don't believe you told him. 



INOPPOHTUNE ARI^IVALS. 423 

I can't now youVe knocked it all out of me. But I 
should have won." 

"If I had not been so weak from my wound, you 
would not have won," I cried. 

"Well, no," said Esau thoughtfully, as we shook 
hands, "for you do hit precious hard. There, mother, 
will that do ? " 

" Oh yes, my dear," cried Mrs. Dean, clinging to 
my hands now ; " and may I kiss you, my dear ? " 

I bent down and kissed the little woman, whose 
face was full of sympathy for me, 

"And you've been dangerously ill and nearly dead, 
Mr. Raydon told us. Well, that excuses everything. 
Esau's temper was horrible after ho had been ill 
with measles. You remember, my dear ? " 

"I don't," said Esau, on being thus appealed to. 
" I know you were always cross with me, and 
wouldn't let me go out." 

"Ah well, ah well," said Mr. John Dempster^ 

''never mind about that now. Mayne, my dear boy, 
do wash your face, and let's have a long talk. I am 
sorry my dear wife saw you like this, for she has 
been talking so much about you. I am very sorry." 

*' Sorry, sir!" I cried passionately; "it is horrible." 

"Yes, it is unfortunate, but an accident," he said 
smilingly, as he laid his hand upon my shoulder. 
"You have not fought much siace I saw you last?" 

"Fought? No," I said, unable to keep back a 
smile at his question. 

" Ah ! you laugh, but I have one memory of your 
prowess in that way. There, remove those marks." 

"That's better," he said, a few minutes later. 
"Now I want to know all about your adventures." 



424 TO THE WEST. 

"And I about yours, sir," I said eagerly, for we 
were alone, Esau having passed out of the strangers' 
quarters with his mother. "Tell me about Mrs. 
John. Is she better ? " 

"Ah, you did not see," he said, with a smile that 
was quite womanly lighting up his face. '* For a 
time she frightened me, but once we were at sea 
she began to mend, and for months now the change 
has been wonderful." 

"I am glad," I cried. 

"Yes, wonderful," he continued. "My brother 
Kaydon was right; but had I known, enthusiastic as 
I am, what a terribly long, slow, tedious journey it 
was across those vast plains, I should never have 
dared to venture." 

" But she has borne it well ? " 

" Borne it ! My dear boy, she is no longer the 
same. The delightful air, the freedom from all 
restraint, the grandeur of the scenery we have come 
through, everything has seemed to be giving her 

back her lost strength, and it is a new life she is 

bef:ciiii^iQ^ to live." 

" I am thankful," I said. 

" But tell me, Mayne," he said ; " there is some 
coolness between you and my brother. He did not 
tell me what it was. Have you not been happy 
with him ? " 

"Yes," I said, ''till now." 

And then I told him everything, from the discovery 

of the gold to the moment of his arrival. He stood 

looking thoughtful for a few moments, and then 

said — 

" And young Dean believes it too ? " 



INOPPORTUNE ARRIVALS. 425 

" Yes," I said ; " and that caused the struggle that 
you saw/' 

" Of coarse of course. I see." 

"But, Mr. John, indeed, indeed I kept my word. 
I did not I would not tell a soul; and I have care- 
fully avoided going to the place." 

He stood with his brows kait in silence, looking 
straight away, 

"You do not believe me VI said, piteously. 

" Believe you ? Why not ? " he said, rousing 
himself from his musing. " Of course I believe 
you, Mayne, and so will my brother. He ought 
not to have doubted you. Ah, here he comes 
back." 

I felt a curious shrinking as I saw Mr. Baydon 
coming across the enclosure ; and as he entered there 
was the stern severe look in his countenance which 
he put on when he was angry. 

" T came to fetch you back, .Fohn," he said quietly. 

Then turning to me, " May T knoAV the cause of the 
disgraceful scene that was taking place a little while 



ago 



?" 



'* Yes," cried Mr. John, instituting himself as my 
champion directly. " It seems that you have had 
unjust suspicions of my young friend Mayne, and 
that his companion shared them. Mayne could not 
turn and thrash you, but he could young Dean, and 
he did." 

Mr. Raydon looked at me sharply. 

"You may take his word for it," continued Mr. 
John, *'as I do. There has been a mistake." 

" You have not altered a bit, John," said Mr. 
Raydon drily. "Come." 



4;2G TO THE WEST. 

'* Yes, I'll go back with you, for there is so much 

to say. Come, Mayne." 

I saw Mr, Raydon raise his brows a little, and that 

was enough. 

"Not now, Mr. John," I said. 

" But my wife, she w^ants to see you." 

"Yes, sir, and I want to see her; but not now." 

"He is quite right, John," said Mr. Raydon. "Let 

him stay for the present." 

Mr. John looked from one to the other and then 
said seriously " As you will, Dan. Good bye then 
for the present, Mayne. There, keep up your heart. 
I'll talk to my brother, and I'll warrant that before 
long he Avill see the truth as I do." 

He stopped back to say this, and then went on 
after Mr. Raydon, leaving me to fling myself on the 
bench, rest my elbows on the table, and bury my 
face in my hands. For it seemed to me that I 
had never felt so miserable before, and as if fate 
was playing me the most cruel of tricks. I felt 
indignant too with Mr. Raydon, who had seemed to 
look upon his brother-in law's faith in me with a 
cruel kind of contempt, treating him as if he were 
an enthusiast easily deceived. 

And all this stung me cruelly. I was touched in 
my pride, and the worst part of it seemed to be that 
Mrs. John miojht have so much faith in her brother 
that she would be ready to believe his word before 
mine. 

As I sat there thinking, I was obliged to own that 
matters did look black against me, and that with 
such terrible evidence in array, there was some 
excuse for Mr. Ra}don. 



INOPPORTUNE ARRIVALS. 427 

" But she might believe me," I said, half aloud. 
But even as I said this, I recalled how he had 
evidently dreaded that I should betray the secret, 
and watched me and Gunson at our last meeting, 
which certainly did look suspicious when taken into 
consideration with the object of the latter's visits to 
the neighbourhood. 

"Gunson shall come here and tell him everything. 
He shall make him believe," I said to myself ; and 
then in a despondent way, I felt that I could not go 
up to the camp without making Mr. Raydon think 
worse of me at once, and then Mrs. John would 
believe in him more and more. And it all seemed 
over, and as if the happy days I had looked forward 
to when the travellers came, would never be^ and 
that I was the most unfortunate fellow that had ever 
breathed, when a hand was laid gently on my head, 
and a voice said — 

*' Mayne/' 

I started to my feet, and there was Mrs. John 
gazing at me sadly, but so changed since I had seen 
her before my start, that I could only look at her 
wonderingly, and when she held out her hand I 
caughb it and was about to raise it to my lips, but 
she drew me to her, and the next moment she was 
seated on the bench I had left, and I was down upon 
my knees gazing up into her sweet face, feeling that 
while she lived I had one who would always take for 
me the part of the mother I had lost so long. 




CHAPTER XLI. 




AN INVASION OF SAVAGES. 

T was quite two hours later that, as she 

to cro bask to Mr. Raydoii's 



rose 



go 



quarters, Mrs. John said 

" There, I believe in you, IMayne, and 

so does my husband. Be satisfied." 

" I never shall be till Mr. Raydon tells me he was 

wrong," I said. 

" And he will as soon as he feels convinced, so 

be patient and wait. My brother is rather strange 

in his ways, and always was. When he becomes 

prejudiced through some idea he is very hard to 

move." 

" But I cannot stay here," I said. 

" You will not go and leave us now that we have 
come so far. We shall want your help." 

" But—" 

"Come, Mayne, you will not object to suffering a 
little, I hope, for our sake. I date say my brother will 
keep on in his stern, hard way, for a time ; but when 
he is fully convinced, you will be glad that you bore 
with him." 

" I shall do exactly as you wish me to," I said 



AN INVASION OF SAVAGES. 429 

quietly ; and I again looked wonderingly at her, she 
"was so changed. 

" We shall not lead you wrong, Mayne/' she said, 
smiling; and, at her wish, I walked back with her to 
Mr. Kaydon's place, where Mr. John rose to make 
room for us, but Mr. Raydon hardly glanced at me, 
and his manner was so strained during the next 
hour, as I sat listening to the conversation about the 
adventures during the long journey across the plain, 
that I was very glad to make an excuse so as to get 
away to where Mrs. Dean was seated in the strangers' 
quarters relating her story to Esau. 

*' Ah," she cried, as I entered; "and what do you 
think of Mrs. John ? " 

" I hardly knew her,'* I said. " She is indeed 
better." 

" Yes," said Mrs. Dean, drawing herself up proudly, 
" I think I did my duty there." 



" T am Ruro von did '* 



y 

"Such a poor, thin, weak creature as she was till I 
began to nurse her." 

" The change worked wonders," I said, 

"Yes, of course, it did her good, sir; but no 
change is of any good without plenty of nursing." 

I saw that I was touching on tender ground, and 
was trying to think of a fresh subject, when loud, 
blustering voices outside made both Esau and me 
get up to see, for there was evidently an angry alter- 
cation going on just inside the gate. 

" I have told you plainly," Mr. Raydon was saying 
as we drew near. " This is neither an hotel nor a 
liquor-bar, and you cannot have it here." 

" Well, you might be civil," said a voice which 



430 TO THE WEST, 

made me start and feel puzzled as to where I had 
heard it before. " Not going to refuse travellers a 
shelter or a glass of liquor, are you ? " 

Esau gave my arm a jerk, but I did not look at 
him, for my attention was taken up by Mr. Raydon, 
who was facing, with Gray and two more of the men, 
a party of a dozen roughs. 

" You do not want shelter on a fine night like this, 
and I have no spirits except to use for medicine." 

"That's right/' said the famdiar voice. '^ Medicine 

■physic — that's what we want; drop o' spirits for 
medicine — eh, lads ? " 

There was a chorus of laughter at this, and the 
men began to press forward. 

" Then you will not get it here, my lads^ so go back 
to the place from whence you came," said Mr. 
Raydon, firmly. " Bread and meat, and butter or 
milk, you can have; nothing more." 

"But we want a drink," said another man. "Here, 

we don't want you to give it us. Look here," he 
cried, taking some gold from his pocket. "Now 
then. 111 give you all this for a bottle of whiskey." 

" Ay, and I'll give you this for another bottle," 
cried a third man. 

" Keep your stuff in your pockets, lads," cried the 
first speaker, and I felt a kind of thrill run through 
me now, for I had recognized in him the big, fierce 
fellow who had wrestled with Gunson on board the 
boat, and threatened mischief next time they met. 

" Keep your stuff in your pockets ; the old 'un is 
going to give us a bottle or two of the liquor he 
swaps with the Injuns for the bear skins. Now 
then, old boy." 



AN INVASION OF SAVAGES. 431 

"I am going to give you nothing, neither food nor 
drink," said Mr. Eaydon, firmly. " You have only 
come down from the camp yonder this evening." 

** Well, who said we hadn't? That's rii^ht enough. 



WeVe got claims up there, and we've come to treat 
you all and have a drink with you/' 

" I have told you that you will get no drink here." 

" Get out ! " said the big fellow, wdiose voice I had 
first heard. " You don't mean that. Come, get out 
the bottles. Come along, lads ; we arn't going to be 
served like this.'' 

*' No," came angrily in chorus ; and the men pressed 
forward, but Mr. Raydon and his party stood their 
ground. 

" We're going to take it, arn't wx, if he don't fetch 
it out — eh, lads ? " 

"Ay." 

"Stand back!" cried Mr. Raydon, authoritatively. 
" Gray ! " 

The latter took half a dozen steps backward, and 
stood waitinc:^ for orders. 

" You, Gordon, and you, Dean, run to my house, 
and keep there in shelter." 

" Oh," said the big fellow, wuth a laugh. " Turning 
nasty, eh ? Well then, Ave'll take it. Show him 
your shooting-irons, lads, and let him see that we 
can be nasty too " 

Half a dozen of the men pulled out revolvers, and 
there were a few sharp clicks heard. 

"Did you hear me, Goidon ? " said Mr. Raydon, 
harshly. " Run." 

"I can't run away, and leave you like this," I said. 



ft 



Obey orders, boy. Both of you back, quick ! " 



432 TO THE WEST. 

There was a soaiethiug about him which enforced 
obedience, and I went back towards the house 
wondering why the other men did not come to their 
chiefs help, especially now that he was being backed 
slowly across the enclosure by the gang of men, each 
of whom had a revolver in his hand. 

" Yes," said Mr. Raydon, sharply, and Gray and 
another man turned and ran for one of the little 
block -houses in the corner of the enclosure. 

"Hah! Yah! Hoo!" roared the fellows, derisively ; 
and one of them fired a shot, an example followed by 
two more, not aimed at the retreating party, but 
evidently meant to scare them and hasten their 
retreat. There was another roar of laughter at this, 
followed by more derisive shouts, as Gray and his 
companions disappeared in the building before 
named. 

" It*s all right, lads ; that's where the landlord's 
cellar is : come on ! " 

Mr. Raydon still backed toward the corner build- 
ing, and Esau and I continued our retreat to the 
chiefs quarters, where I saw Mr. and Mrs. John at 
the door, alarmed by the firing. 

" Tell them to keep in," cried Mr. Raydon to me ; 
and seeing that there was danger, I ran to them, 
half forced them back, and without instructions I 

snntched up Mr. Raydon's double rifle and cartridge- 
belt. 

"Good heavens, Gordon, what is the matter?" 
cried Mr. John. 

" Nothing serious, I hope/' I said. " Orders : stay 

inside." 

I darted out again with the rifle, and ran to 



AN INVASION OF SAVAGES. 433 

where Mr. Raydon was standing his ground still, and 
he was saying something in a loud voice to the men, 
bat I only caught the words " Fair warning." 

*'Hah! Good!" he exclaimed, as I ran up with 
the rifle ; and he caught it and the cartridge-belt, 
but he did not attempt to load. 

" Back to them," said Mr. Haydon to me ; and 
I went unwillingly, for it seemed cowardly to go, 

"He's going to fight," said the leader of the gang. 
" There, don't pepper him, mates." 

There was another roar of laughter at this. 

'' I warn you once more, my good fellows. This is 
an outrage you are committing, and if blood is shed 
the fault will be yours." 

" Those bottles o' whiskey." 

"You get nothing here. Go 1 " 



" Eush them, lads." 

The miners with their revolvers were about a dozen 

ynrda from the corner block-house^ nnd Mr Raydon 

and the man with him were half way to the door, 
their backs towards it, wlien the bully gave his 
order. 

Like an echo of that order, and just as the men 
were in motion, came one from Mr. Raydon. 

'* Make ready present ! " 

I shrank back startled as I heard the loud 
military commands, and the effect was the same 
upon the gang of rough gold diggers, who stopped 
short, while half of them turned and began to run. 

For, as the order rang out, Gray and another man 

sprang to the door with presented pieces, and from 
the openings on the floor above half a dozen more 
rifles were thrust out. 

E E 



434 TO THE WEST. 

"Another step forward and I give the word 
Fire 1 " cried Mr. Raydon^ fiercely. " You see we are 
prepared for unpleasant visitors here, whether they 
are white savages or red. Now then, have the good- 
ness to go, and don t trouble us with your presence 
here again." 

*' Oh, it was only a joke, mate/' cried the big 
fellow. *' Needn't make such a fuss about it/' 

"A joke, to fire on my retiring men?" said Mr. 
E,aydon, fiercely. " Go, or my men will perpetrate 
a similar joke on you, you miserable bully and 
coward." 

" Bully am I ? coward am I ? " growled the 
fellow, menacingly cocking his revolver. 

" Cover this fellow, Gray," said Mr. Raydon without 
turning, and I saw Gray make a slight movement. 

'* That man is a dead shot, my good man," said 
Mr. Raydon. " Once more, go ! " 

^' Right; we're gf^ing^ ob, motos?" 

" No," said another. Let's -" 

"Another word, and I order my men to fire," 
cried Mr. Raydon, fiercely. " We have driven off a 
hundred Indians before now^ and I tell you that we 
are well prepared." 

"Oh, all right," growled the fellow. "Come on, 
mates. This is English hospitality, this is. Well, 
every dog has his day, and perhaps ours '11 come 
next.'* 

They walked slowly toward the gate, and passed 
out muttering threateningly ; and as they passed out, 
in obedience to an order. Gray and another man 
ran across to the opening with their rifles at the trail, 
each seizing one of the swing back gates which they 



AN INVASION OF SAVAGES. 435 

were about to close, "when half a dozen of the gang 
reappeared and fired from their revolvers. Before 
they could repeat the shots the gates were banged 
to and barred, while Gray sprang up a few steps and 
applied his eye to a loop hole. 

" Well ? " said Mr. Raydon, advancing quietly. 

"Running back toward the river, sir. Shall we 
fire over their heads ? " 



'' No. They have gone/' said Mr. Raydon. 

Then turning to me, wheie I stood just outbide 
the door of his liouse, he said sternly 

"You see why I wished to keep this district free 
of all that is connected with o*okl ? " 

I made no answer, for none n'ould come. 

" We have enoug^h enemies aniong^ the Indians," 



he continued. '' These people add to our cares." 

Still I made no answer, for I was thinkinc^ of 
Gunson, who was. as I had heard, gold finding up 
our sti'enm^ peihaps quite n1ono. The^o peoplo, oU 

well armed, were going up his way, and one of them 
had sworn to do him some mischief. Did he know 
tliat Gunson was there? Did Gunson know that 
this man was within a few miles of him, perliaps 

close at hand ? 

I shuddered as I thought of the wealth up that 
stream. These men could cnly be fresh comers, 
attracted by rumours of a new find of rich gold. 
Perhaps Gunson had already found a good deal ; he 
most likely would have found a great deal, and this 
would be an additional inducement for them to attack 
him, rob, perhaps kill him out of revenge. 

"And this was all due to the discovery of the 
gold/' I thought, and it was emphasized the next 



436 TO THE WEST. 

moment, for Mr. John came up to his brother in- 
law. 

" Who are those men, Daniel ? " he said, eagerly. 

" Scum of the earth come for the metal whose 
existence I have kept secret ever since I came here. 
I fought very hard to keep the gold unknown, hut 
my efforts have been in vain. You see for yourself 
the result of the discovery;" and then, as I saw bis 
lowering brow and anxious face, he exclaimed 

"Yes, the rich finds are made known, and we do 
not know the extent of the mischief yet." 

He glanced at me again sharply, and I knew I 
looked very conscious ; but it was not on account of 
the stubborn suspicion he persisted in feeling about 
me, but because I was excited about Gunson, for I 
Avas asking myself what I ought to do with respect 
to a man who in his rough way had done so much 
for me, and the answer came at once just as if 

Rompthing had whi^ppred to ine — ■ 

" Never mind about what people think if your 
intentions are good and true. Warn the poor fellow 
before it is too late. Go ! " 




CHAPTER KLII. 




WE MAKE UP OUR MINDS. 

R. JOHN gave me a troubled look, for in 
his simple earnest way he was hurt at 
seeing the strained situation, and, as he 
told me afterwards, there was great ex- 
cuse for his brother-in law, as matters did look black 
against me, sufficient to make Mr. Raydon feel that 
I had acted a very unworthy part. 

I stood there alone, and otherwise quite unnoticed 
for a iew minutes, while Mr. Raydon gave his people 
some quick, sharp orders, and then walked into his 
quarters with Mr. John. 

"What shall I do?" I thouoht. 



excuse. 



" If I go and ask 
him to let me run and warn Mr. Gunson, he will 
think I want to join him, and that this is only an 

I can't go down on my knees and vow and 
protest again that I kept my word. Some one told 
Gunson, of course. Could it have been Esau, and 
is he j^hiying unfairly ? " 

I did not like to think it of him, and I Avas just 
trying to drive the thoughts away, when he came 
out of the strangers' quarters, whcie I had seen him 
<X0 with Mrs. Dean. 



438 TO THE WEST. 

"Well, it's all over," he said. " I thought we was 
going to have some rare fun." 

" Esau 1 " I cried, aghast. " What, with men being 
shot ! " 

" Yes ; why not, if they tried to shoot us ? But, 
I say, they'll come back again ; see if the}' don't, to 
help themselves to all there is here." 

I shook my head. 

"No," I said; "they've been too much scared as 
it is." 

" Not they. Of course they run when they saw 
the rifles. I shouldn't wonder if we have a really 
big fight like you've read of in books." 

** You are talking nonsense," I said. " But look 
here, Esau. About that gold '? " 

"Yes," he cried eagerly; "going to have a try 

for it ? " 

" No." 

''Oh," said Esau, gloomily. "Thought you were 
coming to your senses. I don't see why other folks 
should get it all, and us left uDwhere." 

" Esau ! '' I said, as I caught him by the sleeve, 
"you see how I am being suspected of all this. Mr. 
Baydon still thinks I told Mr. Guuson." 

" Well, so you did, didn't you ? " he repHed, with 
a curiously sly look. 

"No/' I cried, fiercely; " nnd you know I did not. 

But did you?" 

Esau looked me full in the face for a few moments, 
before turning his eyes away, and beginning to 
whistle softl3^ 

" Do you hear what I say ? " I cried, angrily. 

" Course I do," he replied, with a mocking laugh. 



WE MAKE UP OUR MINDS, 439 

" Then tell me — at once — the truth. Did you give 
Mr. Gunson to understand where this gold was ? " 

" Let's see : you asked me before, didn't you ? " 
said Esau, coolly. 

'' You know I did/' 

"Well, then, don't ask no questions, and nobody 
won't tell you no lies." 

" Then it was you," I cried ; '* and it was a mean, 
cowardly, cruel trick to let me be suspected and 
treated as I have been here. I have always been 
fair and open with you." 

Esau whistled again in a low soft way, giving me 
a sidelong glance again, and then taking out his 
great knife and making a pretence of cutting his 
nads, for which task the knife was about as suitable 
as a billhook. 

'' Are you going to own it ? " 

No answer. 

" Are you going to own to it?" T said, more 

loudly. 

" No, I ain't" he cried, angrily, " and I don't want 
to be bothered about it no more. Wish I'd gone 
after the gold myself. I could ha' made mother rich 
and comfortable all her life. Whafc business had he 
to interfere and keep it all from us ? Meant to 
have the place to himself, and now somebody else 
has got it, and serve him right." 

I turned away from him angrily, but I was too 

much worried to be able to do without advice, and 

I walked back to where he was still chopping at his 

nails. 

*' Esau," I said; "you saw that big fellow with 

the gang ? " 



440 TO THE WEST. 

"Easy enough to see," he replied, sulkily, 

" You saw who it was ? " 

" Yes. Chap Gunson pitched over that day 
aboard the steamer." 

**Yes. And you remember how ho threatened 
Mr. Gunson ? " 

" Course I do." 

" Well, they're going up the little valley to where 
Mr. Gunson is." 

" And if old Gunson meets him he'll send him 
hack with a flen in his e^^r " 

" One man against a party of twelve all well 
armed, Esau?" I whispered. " I'm afiaid about Mr. 
Gunson. Suppose he is up there somewhere alone, 
and has found a great deal of gold ? " 

" What ! " cried Esau, excitedly, for my words had 

moved him now. 

'* I gay, suppose he has collected a lot of gold, and 
those roucrh fellows know of it \ " 

"Why, they'd kill him, and take every scrap," 
cried Esau. '* Here, let's go and tell Mr. Raydon." 

"He would not stir to help, I am sure. Mr. 
Raydon does not want Gunson there, and he would 
be glad if he was driven away," 

*' Think old Gunson knows of tliose cliaps coming ? " 

"I don't know. I should think not." 

" Let's go and see." 

" Yes ? " 

" And if he don't know, tell him." 

"Yes; that is what I should like to do," I said. 



" We ought to warn him." 



*' Course we ought. He helped us." 
" But how can we manage it ? " 



WE MAKE UP OUK MINDS. 441 

" Go. We know the way/' 

I stood for a few moments thinking, and at last 
made up my mind. 

*' You will go with me, Esau ? " I said. 

"Yes; soon as it's dark." 

" They wouldn't let us go now ? " I said, dubiously. 

" You try," said Esau, with a laugh. '* Why, if 
old Kaydon thought we were going to try and get 
out, he'd lock us up." 

"Don't let's stand here," I said, in a husky voice, 
for the excitement was increasing. " Let's go back 
to the quarters and talk there." 

"Can't. Mother's in there, and we shouldn't be 
able to say a word." 

" Then as soon as it's dark we'll climb over, and 
make straight for the mining camp." 

" That's so," said Esau ; and we waited patiently 
for the coming on of night. 

As soon as it was decided, that which had seemed 
to me so very easy began to show itself in quite 
another light, and difficulties sprang up one after the 
other of which I had not taken thouf^jht before. 

Fu'st of all I learned that a strict watch was to 
be kept at night, and in consequence it would be 
next to impossible to get over the palisade without 
being; heard or seen. 

Next, when we had escaped — I inadvertently 
used that word, for it was like running away, though 
I meant to return — there would be the difficulty 
of hitting; the right vallev in the darkness. Then, 
if we found the valley, how were we to find 
out the place where Gunson had made his camp ? 
and above all, how were we to pass the camp or 



442 TO THE WEST. 

resting-place of the gang of men who had been to 
the Fort that day ? It was pretty certain that one of 
their number would be on guard. 

" Yes, and pop at us," said Esau, when I told him 
of this difficulty. " Never mind ; he couldn't hit us 
in the dark. See, too, if old Gunson doesn't shoot 
at us if we go disturbing him in the night." 

"He would not fire at us," I said, contemptuously. 

" Oh, we are clever ! " cried Esau, " How's ho 
going to know it's us ? " 

" Well, we must risk it," I said. 

" Oh, yes, we'll risk it. Way is to crawl up ; then 
if they fire, they're sure to miss." 

That starting time seemed as if it would never 
come. I had my evening meal with Mr. Raydon 
and Mr. Dempster, Esau having his with his mother 
at the Grays', but I hardly ate anything, for in spite 
of Mrs. John's pleasant smiles and words, the con- 
straint seemed to have increased, ^ra] T foh, nnjiTstly 

enough perhaps, as if my presence was only tolerated 
on account of my friends. 

I got away as soon as I could, and as I waited for 
Esau to come, I began now to think that I was not 
doing right. But I drove the thouglits away in a 
reckless fashion. Esau would laugh at me, I thought, 
and, full of determination now, I was glad when he 
came. 

" Well," he said ; '' mean to go ? " 

*' Mean to go ? Of course ! " 

" 'Cause they're going to be on the look out pretty 
sharp, so Gray says, and they've got orders to fire at 
any one strange." 

"To fire ? " I said, feeling rather startled. 



WE MAKE UP OUR MINDS. 44'.3 

" Yes ; so if we get fired at when we go, and fired 
at when we get there, it's bound to be a lively sort 
of a time/' 

I was silent. 

" Well; what do you think of it now ? " said Esau, 
as I did not speak. " Going ? " 

'' Do you want to hang back, Esau ? " I said, 
huskily. 

" No ; I'll stick to you, o' course/* 

" Then we*ll go as soon, as we can." 

*' I thought you'd say so/' he said. " You always 
was so fond of old Gunson." 

" Then you don't want to go ? " 

" Course I don't, now Tve got mother here, safe. 
But if you're going, I'm going, so how soon ? " 

It was already dark, and feeling if I waited much 
longer the hesitation I suffered from might increase, 
I said excitedly 

« Now." 

" All right then; let's get a little way further from 
the corner, make straight for that look-out place, 
where Gray watched the chaps going, and get over 
there." 

*'Yes," I said, thoughtfully ; *'we can get on the 
top of the big paling and drop down from there. 
But I say, Esau," I whispered, " how are we to climb 
back ? " 

"Dunno. Let's do one joh first," he whispered 
back, philosophically. " Now then, are you ready ? " 

" Yes," I said, desperately. 

"Then down on your hands and knees, and let's 
creep like dogs. They will not see us then." 

It is impossible to describe the feeling of excite- 



444 TO THE WEST. 

ment which came over me as I followed Esau's 
example, and letting him lead, began to crawl pretty 
quickly across the enclosure. I looked back, and 

there were the lights in Mr. Raydons quaiters, 
where my friends were seated, and wondered what 
they would think when they heard that I had gone, 
and Avhat construction Mr. Raydon would place upon 
my departure, for something seemed to tell me that 
"we should be found out ; and it was not likely that 
we should be credited with going for so innocent a 



rpn son 



No," I said to myself ; " he will think I have 
gone to join Gunson to wash for gold, and " 
'* Don't ! I say, mind where you are coming." 
For my head had come sharply in contact with 
my companion. 

" What's the matter ? Why did you stop ? " 
" Only to look back at that place where mother is. 
My ! won t she be in a taking if they find out we are 



gone 



?" 



"Go on quickly, then," I whispered^ "and let's get 
back before they know it." 

At that moment there was a loud growl toward 
one of the block houses. 

*' Rough's heard us," whispered Esau. "Come on." 

We crept forward, and then I felt a chill of dread, 
for there was a quick rustling sound, a loud bark, 
and though we could not see liini, I knew that the 
great dog was coming at us full speed. 

My first idea was to get up a^ad run, but before I 
could put my intention in force, the dog was upon 
us, barking furiously ; but the next minute, after 
knocking me right over, he was whining and fawning 



WE MAKE UP OUR MINDS. 445 

upon me, and giving a share of his attentions to 

Esau. 

"Down! Quiet! Get ont!" whispered Esau. 
" Why don't you wipe your nose ? " 

" Here, Rough ! What is it, lad ? Hold him ! " 
came from the direction of the block-house. 

" Oh, it's all up," I whispered, as the dog set up 
a loud volley of barking. 

*' Seize him ! " cried the voice, which I knew to 
be Gray's; but the dog barked again, as if in remon- 

stvnnop, and sf^emed niare. disposed to p^ay with US 

than to seize. 

" What is it then ? What have you got ? " 

There was another burst of barking. 

" Let's go back," whispered Esau. 

" No, no, go on. Never mind the dog." 

" Let's run for it then," whispered Esau, and 
catching hold of my hand, he led the way quickly 
toward the fence, with Eough leaping and bounding 
round us, and every now and then uttering one of the 
volleys of barking which sounded terribly loud in the 
utter silence of that dark night. 

We had nearly reached the place, when I heard a 
familiar voice say 

" What's the matter with that dog ? " 

" Don t know, sir. Seems to have found something, 
or he wouldn't go on like that. Here ! Hi ! Rough, 
Rough, Rough ! " 

But the dog would not leave us. We were only 
friends, and he kept on his excited bark. 

" Here, Rough ! " cried Mr. Rayd on, angrily ; and 
at that moment we reached the fence, fortunately 
for us just by the loophole. 



446 TO THE WEST. 

" Over with you first," cried Esau, and I climbed 
rapidly to the top, threw my legs over, lowered 
myself to the full extent of my arms, and dropped 

lightly. 

" Come across and see," came just then from the 
other side ; and now while I heard the rustling and 
scrambling noise made by Esau in climbing, as I 
stood there listening with my heart beating heavily, 
the dog began to bark furiously, then to growl. Tliere 
was a struggling noise, and then Esau's voice came 
through the crack of the paling. 

" He's got hold of me tight. Rim, lad, run ! " 

But I could not run then antl leave my companion 
in the hirch, and I was about to climb back when 
the worrying, growhng sound ceased, and E&au 
dropped beside me. 

"Come on!" he whispered. "This way. He's 
got half the leg of my trousers." 

Catching my hand again we tiotted on. 

" Jumped at me, and hekl mc so as I shouldn't 
get over," he whispered. " Here, this way. We're 
right, I know." 

The dog's barking was furious now, and I whispered 
to E?au — 

"They're opening the gate." 

"Hist ! Don't take no notice." 

For there was a shout from behind. 

" Halt, there, or we fire ! " 

" Go on then," muttered Esau. " Sha'n*t halt now. 
You couldn't hit us if you tried." 

" Do you hear ? Halt I " 

It was Mr. Eaydon who shouted, but I was 
desperate now I had gone so far, and we kept up 



WE MAKE UP OUR MINDS. 447 

our trot, with Esau acting as guide. His eyes were 
better than mine in the darkness. 

" Fire I " came from behind now, and three flashes 
of light appeared for an instant, followed by the 
reports of the rifles. 

" Not killed me," muttered Esau, with a chuckle. 
But I did not laugh, for a thought had struck me. 

"Esau," I whispered; "the}' '11 set the dog on our 
scent, and use him to run us down. There, do you 
hear ? " 

For the barking of the dog began once more. 

*' Can we cross the river ? " I said. 

" No.*' 

" Then make for the first stream and let's wade 
along it a little way." 

" Never thought of that/' muttered Esau. " Here, 
let's go along by the river." 

Five minutes later we were splashing along close 

to the pdo-o keppincf onr foot in the water for a time 

with the dog's deep baying behind coming on so 
slowly that I knew he must be chained and some 
one holding him back. 

" He will not track us now," I said breathlessly. 
*' They'll think we have crossed." 

"Then they'll think we're drowned, and go and 
tell mother," said Esau, stopping short. "Here, let's 
go back." 

" Not now we have gone so far," I said. " I could 
not face Mr. Raydon now. Besides, they will know 
that we could take care of ourselves." 

"Course they would," said Esau. "Come on." 
But before we had gone a hundred yards he said, 
"Why they won't know it is us yet." 



448 TO THE WEST. 

We tramped on as quickly as we could go for tlie 
darkness, and by degrees the barking of the dog grew 
more faint in the distance, and finally ceased. 

" There," said Esau ; " they'll be clever if they find 
us now." 

"And we shall be clever if we find our way." 

" Oh, I'll find my way. I shall never forget how 
to get to that place, after what happened that day." 

I shuddered, for his words brought up my long 
illness, and made me tramp on down alongside the 
stream with a curious sensation of nwe. 

For the darkness was at times intense, and in the 
blackest parts the river seemed to dash and roar in 
a way that was startling, and as we had never heard 

it before. 

It was all fancy of course, and so it was that the 
pines rose up so black that it was hard work to make 
out the landmarks in the valley which had grown 
famihar during our many wanderings. 

Twice over we stopped to argue, for Esau was 
positive and obstinate to a degree, insisting that we 
had come to the right ravine, while I was as sure 
that we had not. 

He gave way sulkily, assuring me that I was going 
right on past it, and at last I b^gan to think he must 
be correct. For I had lost all count of time in my 
excitement, and I stopped short. 

"Tve taken you right by it, Esau," I said sadly. 
"We must go back." 

" No, you haven't," he replied, to my great surprise. 
" I've thought since that couldn't be it, because there 
was no open pool just below the fall. Don't you 
remember, where we saw so many trout ? " 



WE MAKE UP OUR MINDS. 449 

"Of course," I cried; "I remember now. Then 
it is lower down, and we ought to hear the noise of 
falling water.'* 

We listened^ but there was only the rumbling roar 
of the river down on our left. 

" Tm afraid we're wrong/* I said despondently. 
" If it only were not so dark ! " 

" Let's go on a bit further first," said Esau ; and I 
followed him full of doubts, till we turned a corner 
where the river made a sudden bend, and Esau 
uttered a low cry. 

« There it is," he said. " Hark t " 

Sure enough there was the roar of a fall, and we 
knew that we had reached the entrance of the little 
side valley, where the pool lay below the falls. 

Another minute, and we were passing through a 
clump of little fir-trees, also familiar to us ; and then 
Esau stopped short, fer there was a bright light just 
in front — a light which puzzled us for a few moments, 
before we understood that it must be the reflection 
from a fire which we could not see, shining in the 
clear waters of the pool 




F F 



CHAPTER XLIir. 



OUR WARNING. 




[FTER a whispered consultation we crept 
on again through the trees, until we 
could see a good-sized fiie blazing and 
sparkling close down by the side of the 
pool, and about it — some asleep, some sitting resting, 
and others talking — were a group of rough looking 
men, whom we had not much difficulty in making 
out to be our visitors at the Fort. 

It was plain enough. They had come down after 
leaving us, and had camped there for the night, 
perhaps found gold there; and this was their station. 
If so, Gunson must be higlier up and safe. 

I whispered my ideas to Esau, who thought for a 

fpw mirmfes before spenking. 

''No," he said, *' I don't beheve they'd stop here. 
But p'r'aps they'ie quite new comers. What shall 
we do ? " 

" Get by them," I said resolutely. " We must hui ry 
on to Mr. Gunson now." 

"But how?" he whispered. "Ain't they stopping 
up all the road ? " 



OUR WARNING. 451 

"Not all," I said. "Let*s go down on our hands 



it 



again, and creep by. 

" All right, only you go first, and be careful 
Mind, if they see us they'll fire." 

I don't know whether it was recklessness or 
desperation. I had felt timid, and had shrunk from 
the task at first; but now that I felt I must go on, 
the dread had pretty well passed away. 

Going down on my hands and knees, I found to 
my great satisfaction that the fire was invisible ; and 
if so, of course we must be out of sight of the men 
about it. I whispered this to Esau, who responded 
by a grunt, which, added to his position, made him 
bear a strong resemblance to an animal, and for the 
moment it amused me, and took my attention from 
the difficulty of my task. 

We had had to leave the tiack, and our way was 
amongst blocks of stone covered with moss, between 

which short stiff pitches of hush otpw mnkino- our 



passage difficult, and not to be accomplished without 



noise. 



But I kept on with the light on my left, knowing 
that if I kept it in that position I mast be going in 
the correct direction ; and it was necessary to keep 
this in mind, as every now and then a tree or a block 
of stone forced me to diverge. 

The men were talking loudly, and now and then 
there arose a I'ough burst of laughter, while there was 
no doubt about wlio the party were, for I heard an 
allusion made to the Fort. 

Just then, as we were about level with the fire, a 
piece of a branch upon which I pressed my knee gave 
a loud crack, and the conversation ceased instantly. 



452 TO THE WEST. 

We neither of us moved, but crouched there, listen- 
ing to our beating hearts, and expecting to have 
either a shot sent in our direction, or to see part of 
the men come rushing toward us. 

At last, after what seemed to be quite ten minutes, 
a voice said — 

" Hear that ? " 

" Yes," was growled. 

" What was it ? " 

''Don^t know." 

They began talking again slowly, and by degrees 
the conversation grew general and loud. 

"Go along," I whispered, after carefully removing 
the dead branch, and once more our rustling progress 
began. 

Oh, how slow it was, and how I longed to jump up 
and run. But we were in the opening of the little 
valley now, and our only chance was to creep on till 

we were well beyond the light cast by the fire, and 
so we persevered. 

At last, after creeping along inch by inch, we 
paused, for in front of us the undergrowth ceased, 
and I saw an open patch of sand faintly lit by the 
fire, and across this we musfc pass to reach the shelter 
beyond. 

" Go on first," whispered Esau, and, drawing a long 

breathy I started^ g*^^^g ^^ silently and quickly a^ I 

could into the darkness of the shelter beyond, and 
turned to look at Esau. 

From where I knelt I could see the fire clearly, 
and as he came across, I was thinking how animal- 
like he looked, when I fancied I saw a movement, 
and before I could be sure, there was a flash, a loud 



OUR WARNING. 453 

report, and a twig dropped from over my head upon 
one of my hands. 

** Bear ! bear ! " shouted a voice, and the men 
sprang to their feet. But b}' this time Esau was 
alongside of me, and rising up we hurried along in 
a stooping position, leaving the eager voices more 
and more behind, the men being evidently hunting 
for the bear one of them believed that he had shot. 

'* Was he firing at me ? " said Esau. 

*'Yes; he saw you, I suppose." 

" But be might l^ave bit me," cried Esau, indig- 
nantly. " Chaps like that have no business to be 
trusted with guns.'* 

"Hist!" 

"Come on, lads," we heaid plainly. "I'm sure I 
hit him." 

"Don't be a fool," cried another voice. "Wait till 
daylight. Do you want to be claAved ? " 

" Shall I roar ? " whispered Esau. 

"Don't — don't, whatever you do," I whispered 
back in alarm, for I had not the slightest faith in my 
companion s imitation, and felt certain that we should 
be found out. 

The men too seemed to be coming on, but in a few 
minutes the rustling and breaking of wood ceased, 
and we crept on again for a little way; and then, 
with the li^ht of the fire reduced to a faint glow, we 
stood upright and began to ascend the little valley at 
a fairly rapid rate for the darkness. 

" What an escape ! " I said, breathing more freely 
now. 

"That's what I ought to say," grumbled Esau. 
" That bullet came close by me." 



454 TO THE WEST. 

" And by me too," I replied. " I felt a twig that it 
cut off fall upon me. But never mind as we were 
not hit." 

" But I do mind," grumbled Esau, " I didn t come 
out here to be shot at." 

''Don't talk," I said. "Perhaps we shall come 
upon another camp before long." 

I proved to be right, for at the end of an hour we 
came upon a rough tent, so dimly seen that we 
should have passed it where it stood, so much canvas 
thrown over a ridge pole, if we had not been warned 
by a low snoring sound. 

We crept down to the waterside, and slowly edged 
our way on; but when we were some fifty yards 
farther we stopped to consider our position. 

" S'2:»ose that's old Gunson," said Esau, ''and we're 
going away from him now ? " 

The idea struck me too, but I set it triumphantly 
asid*^ directly 

" If it were Mr. Gunson there would be a fire, 
and most likely Quong keeping watch. Besides, we 
don't know that he had a tent like that." 

" No, lie hadn't got a tent, ' assented Esau ; and 
we went on, to find that at every quaiter of a mile 
there was a tent or a fire ; and it soon became 
evident that the solitary little valley we had explored 
on the day of my accident was rapidly getting to hold 
a population of its own. 

We had passed several of these busy encamp- 
ments, and were beginning to despair of finding 
Mr. Gunson, when, as nearly as we could guess in 
the darkness, just about where we washed the gold, 
we came upon a fire, whose warm yellow glow lit 



OUR WARNING. 455 

Up a huge pine, and at tlie scene befoie us we 
stopped to reconnoitre. 

" That's where I was cuttini^ the tree/' muttered 



Esau ; " and — yes, there's old Quong. Look I " 

Sure enough there was the yellow faced, quaint 

little fellow coming out of the darkness into the 
light to bend down and carefully lay some fresh wood 

upon the fire, after which he slowly began to walk 

back. 

Mr. Gunson must be here, I thought, for Quong 
would naturally be drawn to him as a strong man 
who would protect him. 

" Come along," I said ; '* we are right after all." 

"No, no, stop!" he cried, seizing me and holding 
me back, for Quong evidently heard our voices, and 
darted back among the trees. 

*' Nonsense/' I said, struggling, 

" Keep back, I tell you. 'Tain't safe. They don't 
know it's us, and som»^body mny ^hoot" 

It was a foolish thing to do, but I wrested myself 
free and ran forward. 

As I did so I heard the ominous click clich of a 
gun-lock, and stopped short. 

"Halt! Who's that? Stand!" cried a deep 
voice; and the effect was so great upon me, that I 
felt like one in a nightmare trying to speak, but no 
words came. 

Esau was not so impressed, however, for he shouted 
wildly- 

"Hi! Don't shoot. It's only us. Mr. Gunson 

there?" 

The boughs were parted, and the familiar figure of 

the prospector came out into the light, rifle in hand. 



456 TO THE WEST. 

" Why, Gordon ! " he cried. " You ? Glad to see 
you ; you too, Dean. But that's risky work, my lad. 
Don't you know the old proverb ' Lot sleeping dogs 
lie ' ? I did not know you were friends, and these are 
dangerous times; I might have tried to bite." 

He shook hands with us both as he spoke, and 
Quong came cautiously out from among the trees, 

'' Ay, ay, ay I " he cried, beginning to caper about. 
" You come along ? How de-do di-do. Quong make 
hot flesh tea.*' 

"No, no; they don't want tea at this time of 
night." 

"Yes, please give me some," I said, for I was hot 
and faint with exertion. '' I shall be glad of a mug." 

*'Hot flesh tea," cried Quong, beginning to rake 
the fire together. " Makee cakce dleckly." 

'^Why, Gordon, what brings you here?" cried Jlr. 
Gunson. " You belong to the opposite camp. Raydon 
l^asn't let you come gold-washing ^ '' 

"No," I said, hurriedly. ''Have you seen those 
men ? " 

" What men ? There are plenty about here." 

"I mean those men you quarrelled with on the 
steamer about Quong." 

"Eh? 'Bout Quong?" cried the little Chinaman, 
looking up sharply. " Bad man on puff boat pullee 
tail neally off. No. 



i} 



" Yes ; they have been at the Fort to-day — yester- 
day — which is it — and they are down below yonder 



now." 



"What, those fellows?** cried Gunson, excitedly; 
and he gave vent to a long low whistle. "That's 
awkward." 



?7 



OUR WARNING. 457 

" I was afraid you did not know/' I said, hurriedly. 
" I knew you were here, and I came to warn you. 
Mr. Raydon- 

" Sent you to Avarn me ? " interrupted Gunson. 

'' No," I said ; " we had to break out of the Fort 
to-night and come. Mr. Raydon is not good friends 
with me." 

"Humph!" ejaculated Gunson. "So you came 
to let me know ? " 

" To put you on your guard," I said. " Yes." 

I saw him look at me fixedlv for a few moments, 

and then in a half morose way he nodded his head 
at me, saying 

" Thank yuu, my lad — thank you too, Dean." 
"Warn't me," said Esau, sourly. " It was him. 

I only come too." 

**Well, it is awkward," continued Gunson, after a 
few moments* thought, " for I have gut to the spot 
now thnt T have been looking for all these years." 

" Then you're finding lots of gold ? " cried Esau, 
eagerly. 

" I am finding a little gold," replied Gunson, 
quietly ; *' and Quong is too." 

*'Eh? Me findee goto?" ciied Quong, looking 
up from the half-boiling kettle, and hastily made 
cakes which he had thrust in the embers to bake. 

"Yea; findee lil bit^ and put um in littlee bottle " 

*'But these men — will they attack you ? " I said, 
anxiously. 

" Yes, if they find that I have a good claim. More 
than two, you say ? " 

I told him all about the coming to the Fort, and 
how we had passed them down below. Gunson 



458 TO THE WEST. 

looked very serious for a while ; tlicn with a smile he 
said quietly 

" Well, union is streno'th. Now vou two lads have 
come, my force is doubled. You will stay with me 



now ? 

" No," I said, firmly. " As soon as it is light I 
must go back to the Fort to our friends." 

" But you have quarrelled with Mr. Raydon, and 
after this night's business he will not have you 
back." 

" No," cried Esau, eagerly. " Let's stop and wash 
gold," 

''And leave your mother," I said, "for the sake of 

that." 

" I wish you wouldn't be so nasty, Mayne Gordon," 
cried Esau. "Who's agoing to leave his mother? 
Ain't I trying to get a lot o' money so as to make 
her well off?" 

''We cannot stay," I said. "I don't want Mr. 
Raydon and my friends " 

" They have arrived then ? " 

" Yls," I said. " What would they think if I ran 
off like this ? " 

'' Humph ! you're a strange lad. You take French 
leave, and come to warn me. They fire at you, and 
hunt you with that great hound, and yet you are 
L^oin::^ bnrk I " 

"Yes," I said, "as soon as it is light; Esau too." 
" And suppose old Raydon won't have us back ? " 
ciied Esau. 

*' But he will when he knows why I came." 

" I am not so sure," said Gunson. " Well, I suppose 



you are right." 



OUR WARNING. 450 

" No, no," cried Esau. "I meant to stop along with 
you. I shan't go. If I do, it'll be to fetch mother/' 

I told Esau I did not believe him, and Gunson 
went on 

"It's awkward about those fellows, for at present 
might is right up here. The worst of it is, Quong 
can't fight." 

** No fightee," said Qnong, looking up sharply. 
"Melican man fightee. Quong makee flesh tea, 
talkee plopcr Enghsh. Makee flesh blead all hot. 
Hot closs bun." 

"I should like to stay with you, Mr. Gunson/' I 
said ; "and it is very tempting. But I must go back." 

"And if Mr. Raydon refuses to have you, my lads, 
come back, and I'll make you as welcome as I can." 

" Flesh tea all leady," said Quong ; and I was soon 
after gladly partaking of the simple meal, close to 
the spot where I had met with the terrible accident 
six months before. 

Before we lay down for a few hours' rest, I wanted 
to tell him more about my trouble, and how Mr. 
Raydon suspected me. I wanted to ask him too 
how he had found out about this spot. But Esau 
was lying close by me, and I suspected him of 
playing a double part. I felt sure just then that 
he had been Gunson's informant, so I had to put 
it all off till a more favourable opportunity; and 
while I was thinking this I dropped off fast 
asleep. 




CHAPTEK XLIV. 



€i 



geay's message. 

LESH tea allee leady/' cried a familiar 



voice in my ear; and I started up to 
see the sun peering over the edge of 
the mountains to light up the beautiful 

opalescent mists floating below. There was the scent 

of the bruised pine-boughs where I lay, and a more 

familiar one wafted from the fire 

made bread. 




that of hot, newly- 



" Yes, all right, I'm getting up," grunted Esau ; 
and directly after we went down to the stream and 
had a good wash, finding Gunson waiting by the fire 
and watching the frizzling of some slices of bacon on 



our return. 

"Good mornino" he paid. 



" Come and have your 
breakfast. Well," he continued, as we began, " what's 



it to be ? 



Going back ? " 



*' Yes," I said, " directly after breakfast." 
'' Oh ! " cried Esau. 



" I can't help it, Esau ; we must. 
honour bound." 

" And we might make our fortunes." 



We are in 



gray's message. 461 

" You leave me, then, to the mercy of those 
scoundrels down below ? " said Gunson, drily. 

" I am only a boy, sir," I said ; " how can I fight 
for you ? I'll beg Mr. Eaydon to send help to you 
though, directly." 

" Yes; do, my lad. I shall be in rather a danger- 
ous position. Say I beg of him to try and give me 
protection, for though I am fighting against him 
here, all this was sure to come, and I mighc as well 
grow rich as any one else." 

I promised eagerly that I would ; and we were 
hurrying through our breakfast, when there was the 
trampling of feet and the breaking of wood just 
below. 

Gunson looked up and seized his rifle, to stand 
ready ; and directly after a man strode out of the 
dense forest and stood before us. 

" Gray ! " I exclaimed, wonderingly. 

"Yes'* he said stolidly "Morninrr" 

" Have some breakfast ? '* said Gunson. 

" Yes. Bit hungry," said Gray. Then turning to 
me and Esau — " Chief says I'm to tell you both that 
as you have chosen to throw in your lot with Mr. 
Gunson here, you are not to come back to the Fort 
again." 

I dropped my knife and sat half stunned, wonder- 
ing what Mr. and Mrs. John would say ; and as I 
recovered myself, it seemed as if when a few words 
of explanation would have set everything right, those 
words were never to be spoken. 

Esau had been as strongly affected as I was ; but 
he recovered himself first. 

" Not to come back to the Fort again ? " he cried. 



462 TO THE WEST. 

*' No/' said Gray, with his mouth full. *' Chief 
said if you were so mad after gold, you might go 
mad both of you." 

" Hurray ! " c^ied Esau. " Then Fm going to be 
mad as a hatter with hats full." 

"Right," said Gray, stolidly, as he munched away 
at the cake and bacon. " You re in the right spot." 

" But hold hard," cried Esau, as another thought 
struck him. "This won't do. He ain't going to keep 
her shut up in the Fort. I want my mother." 

" Right," said Gray, setting down the tin mug out 
of which he drank his hot tea. " I'll tell him you 
want your mother." 

" Yes, do. I don't mind. I wanted to come up 

here." 

" Well, Gordon, what have you to say ? " cried Mr. 
Gunson. " Any message to send back ? " 

"Yes," I said, flushing and speaking sharply. 

"Tell Mr. Ravdon uo, toll Mr and Afi's John th/if 

I have been cruelly misjudged, and that some day 
they will know the whole trutli." 

" Right," said Gray. " I won't forget. Nothing 
to say to the chief? " 

" No," I said ; " nothing.** 

" Yes ; a word from me," said Gunson. " Tell him 

that something ought to be done to preserve order 
here, for the people are collecting fast, and some of 
them the roughest of the rough." 

*' Yes," said Gray. "I'll tell him; but he knows 
already ; we had a taste of 'em yesterday. Anything 

else ? " 

" No/* said Gunson ; " only that perhaps I may 

want to send to him for help." 



GKAYS MESSAGE. 463 

''Best way's to help yourselves/' said Gray, at last 
rising from a hearty breakfast. *' Good-bye, my lads," 
he said, 'Hill we run agcn each other later on. I say," 
he continued, after shouldering his rifle, "did you two 
lads bring away guns ? " 

"No," I said; "of course not." 

" Haven't got any then. How many have you ? " 
he continued, turning to Gunson. 

" Only my own and a revolver," 

"Lend you mine, young Mr. Gordon," he said, 
handing it to me, and then unstrapping his am- 
munition belt, and Avith it his revolver in its holster. 
" Better buy yourself one first chance, and then you 
can send mine back. Take care of the tackle ; it's 
all good." 

"Thank you. Gray," said Gunson, grasping his 
hand. " You couldn't have made him a better loan. 
I won't forget it.'* 

"Coux'se yon won't. Nor liim -npither, T know." 

"Ain't got another, have you ? " said Esau. 

Gz*ay shook his head. 

" Good bye," he said. 

"I say, tell mother not to fret, I'm all right/' cried 

Esau, 

"And give old Rough a pat on the head for me/' I 

cried. 

" T will. Nice game you had with him last night/' 

said Gray, laughing. " Too good friends with you to 
lay hold/' 

" Oh, was I, sir ? " cried Esau ; " he's made one of 
my trousers knee-breeches. Look ! " 

He held up his leg, where tlie piece had been torn 
off below the knee, and Gray laughed as he went 



464 TO THE WEST. 

and disappeared in tlie forest that fringed the banks 
of the stream. 

" Then now we can begin gold digging in real 
earnest," cried Esau, excitedly. " I say, Mr. Gunson, 
how's it going to be ? '* 

'' What, my lad ? " 

*' Each keep all he finds?'* 

^' We'll see about that later on," said Gunson, 
sternly. " There will be no gold washing yet." 

Esau stared. 

** There are too many enemies afoot. I am going 
to wait and see if those men come up this way. If 
they do, there will be enough work to maintain our 
claim, for, setting aside any ill feeling against me, 
they may want to turn us off." 

" Well, they are ugly customers,'' said Esau, rub 
bing one ear. '* I say, do you think they'll come to 
fight ? " 

"If ib(^y thinlc that ^his ^'^ ^ rich c]nim^ rioHiing is 

more likely." 

''And I say," cried Esau, "I didn't mean that." 
*' If you feel afraid you had better go. I dare say 

you can overtake that man." 
" But I don't want to go." 



'' Then stay. 



99 



'' But I don't want to fight." 
" Then go. 



)j 



^' But there ain't nowhere to go, and — Oh, I say, 
Mayne Gordon, what is a fellow to do i " 

"Do what I do," I said, quickly. 

" What's that ? " 

" Trust to Air. Gunson the same as we have done 
before." 



gray's message. 465 

"Thank you, Mayne Gordon/' said Gunson, la3ing 

lii.s hand on my shoulder ; " but I hardly like exposing 

you to risk." 

" The danger has not come yet," I said, smiling, 

thoujich I confess to feelinf^ uncomfortable. "Pei- 
liaps it never will." 

"At any rate we must be prepared," said Gunson. 
"Only to think of it ! What a little thing influences 
our careers ! I little fancied when I protected that 
poor little fellow on board the steamer, that in so 
doing I Av.,s joopaidizing my prospects just when I 
was about to make the success of my life." 

*'It is nnfortuiiate," I said. 

*' Unfortunate, bo} ? it is maddening. But for this 
I shi u1d once mt)ro have been a lich man." 

I looked at him cuii(jusly, and he saw it. 

" Yes," he said, laughingly, " once more a rich man." 

"Is one any the liappier for being rich ? " I said. 

"Not a bit, my lad. T w^m lich once, and was a 
miserable idiot. Mayne, I left college to find myself 
suddenly in possession of a good fortune," he con 
tinned, pausing excitedly now, and speaking quicker, 
for Esau had strolled off to a little distance with 
Quong. " Instead of making good use of it, I listened 
to a contemptible crew who gathered ab(,ut me, 
and wasted my money ra]ndly in various kinds of 
gambling, so that at the end of a year I was not only- 
penniless, but face to face with half a dozen heavy 
debts of honour which I knew I must pay or be 
disgraced. Bah ! A\hy am I telling you all this ? " 

"No, no; don't stop," I said eagerly; "tell me 
all." 

"Well/' he said, "I will; for I like you, Mayne, 

G G 



4^66 TO THE WEST. 

and have from the day we first met on board the 
AlbatrobS. It may be a warning to you. No: I 
"will not insult you by thinking jou cuuld evei giow 
up as I did. For to make up for my losings, I wildly 
plunged more deeply into the wretched morass, and 
then in my desperation went to my sister and mother 
for help." 

*' And they helloed you ? " I said, for he paused. 

" Of course, lor they loved me in spite of my 
follies. It was for the last time, I told them, and 
they signed away every shilling of their fortunes, 
ilayne, to enable me to pay my debts. And then " 

"And then?" I said, foi be had paused again. 

" And then I had the world before me, Mayne," he 
said, sadly. " I was free, but I had set myself the task 
of making money to restore my mother and sister to 
their old position. I tried fii'st in London, but soon 
found out it would be vain to try and save a 
hundredth part of what I ought to pay them, so I 
tried adventure. There were rumours of gold being 
discovered in Australia, then in the Malay Peninsula, 
and again at the Cape, so I went to each place in 
turn and failed. Other men made fortunes, but I 
was always unlucky, till once at t'le Cape, where I 
bit upon a place that promised well, but my luck was 
always against me. My tent was attacked one night, 

and I wns left spiT^eless, to come to niy.self next 

morning, and find that I had been robbed, and so 
cruelly ill used that the sight of one eye was gone 
for ever, and there was nothing left for me to do but 
sell my claim for enough money to take me back to 
England amongst my poor people to be nursed back 
to health. Then, as I grew strong again, there came 



gray's message. 467 

rumours of the gold in British Columbia, and I 
started once more, taking passage as a poor man 
ill the steerage, and meeting on board one Mayne 
Gordon, with whom I became friends. Am I 
right ? " 

** Indeed, yes,*' I cried, giving him my hand. 

"That's well," he said, smiling. "Since then I 
have Avorl-^ed, as you know, for the golden prize that, 
if it does not make those at home happy, will place 
them far above want, but always without success, 
passing away from Fort Elk, when there was 
abundance near, and returning poorer than T went, 
to find out quite by accident tliat here was indeed 
the golden land. Mayne, I have gold worth hundreds 
of pounds ali^eady hidden away safe." 

"I am very, very glad/' I cried. "But I want 
to know — " 

" Yes ? " he said, for I had stopped. 

"Have you — no, not now," for just then Esou 
came up to us. 

"Look here, my lad," said Gunson, quickly, "I 
sincerely hope that we may never have cause to use 
weapons against our fellow men ; but we must be 
prepared for emergencies. Do you know how to 
handle a revolver?" 

Esau shook his head. 

" Hit ever so much harder with my fists," he said. 

" But that will not do. The sight of our weapons 
may keep evil visitors off. Let me show you how 
to load and fire." 

" Will it kick ? " said Esau. 

*' Not if you hold it tightly. Now, look here." 

And as I looked on, Mr. Gunson showed Esau how 



)> 



468 TO THE WEST. 

to load and fire, and generally Ijow to handle the 
weapon, the lesson acting as well for me. 

"There," said Mr. Guuson at last, "you ought to 
be a valuable help to me now ; for the beauty of a 
weapon like this is, that the very sight of its barrel 
will keep mo.st men at a distance; and if they come 
I hoj^e it will these." 

"Did yesterday, didn't it?" said Esxu, laughingly, 
to me, 

*'Now," said Gunson, "about your ritie, Maync; 
can you manage it l " 

"T think so," I said; aud ] handled it in away 
which satisfied my master. 

" That's rioht," he said. " Never mind about hittinnf. 
To fire is the thing ; the noise will, I hope, scare 
enemies. Now if Quong could be of some use, it 
would make a show of four defenders ; but we know 
of old his strong point " 

"Getting up a tree/' T ^-lid, Liughing 

" Exactly. Perhaps he could throw boiling water, 
but I shall not ask him to do that. There, we are 
all right ; every force must Iiave a commissariat de- 
partment, and some general once said that an army 
fights upon its stomach. We'll have him to feed 
us, while we keep guard about the place." 

" And won't you wash for gold at all ? " said Esau, 
in a disappointed tone of voice. 

"No, nor yet mention it," said Gunson, firmly. 
" To all intents and purposes there is no gold here 
whatever. We are settlers, and we are going to 
hold this spot. You see, there is our brand on that 
tree. 

As he spoke he pointed to the mark we had cut 



gray's message. 4G9 

on the great fir tree bard by, md I could not help 
a shudder as I recollected the events of that day. 

The morning passed, and the afternoon came 
without our hearing a sound but those made by the 
birds and squirrels, and after partaking of a meal 
we began to look anxiously for the night as the 
time of danger ; but we saw the ruddy blaze of light 
die out on snow topped peaks, and then the pale 
stars begin to appear. 

'*This place is wonderfully like Switzerland in 
parts,'* said Gunson, as we eat near the fire always 
on the qtti k'ive for danger ; and in a low voice he 
chatted to us till it Avas quite night, and the sky 
was a blaze of stars. 

'' I think we may sleep in peace to night," said 
Gunson, and he was a true prophet, for, though I 
woke twice with a start of fear^ the noise which had 
wakened me was only caused by Quong going to 

1hrow some wood upon the fire^ which he novor 

suffered to die out, but coaxed on so as to have a 
plentiful heap of hot ashes in which to bake. 

Two days passed in peace, and then a third, with 
the inaction telling upon us all. For we were con- 
stantly on the strain, and the slightest sound suggested 



the coming of an enemy. 

" You see we cannot stir," Gimson said to me. 
*•' We must keep together. If one of us played spy 
and reconnoitred, the chances are that the enemy 
would come while we were away." 

"But what does Qnong say?" I asked. "He 
went down the stream last niL:^ht." 

" That there are thirty parties between here 
and the river, and that means some of them are 



470 TO THE WEST. 

new comers, making their way up here before long. 
To-morrow we shall have to send him to the Fort 
to beg fur fuod." 

"But there is a store lower down, Quong told 
me." 

'* Yes, and to buy off the people at their exorbitant 
prices, I shall have to pay with gold, and for the 
present I wish to avoid showing that there is any 
here." 

The next day dawned, and was passing as the 
others l)ad passed, for Mr. Giinson was hesitating 
still about sending Quong for provisions, that little 
gentleman having announced that there would be 
"plenty bread, plenty tea, plenty bacon for another 
dav." 

" Mayne," said Mr. Gunson, as the sun was getting 
low, '* I think I shall go down the stream to-night, 
and see if those men are there. Perhaps, after all, 
we are scared about nothing ; they may have gone 
up another of the valleys instead of this, and foun.l 
gold in abundance — who knows ? But I must end 

this suspense some 

He started, for I was pointing down stream at 
something moving. 
■ " Is that a deer ? " I whispered ; and before he 
could answer a voice cried — 

"Comft orij Ifids, it's more open up here^ and it 



j> 



looks a likely spot." 




CHAPTER XLV. 



i€ 




ouN son's decision. 

fast/' said Guuson, "both of you. 
Don't make any sign, and leave me to 
speak. But mind, if I say ' Tent/ run 
both of you to the tent, and seize your 

weapons ready to do what I say/' 

I gave him a nod, and sat with beating heart 
wntr-hing ihe moving figure, which directly after 
caught sight of us, 

''IIullo!" he said; 



(C 



some one liei e ? 



'> 



Then 



turning, " Look sharp, some of you." 

Eotlt Gunson and I had recognized the man as 
Quong's principal assailant, and I glanced sharply 
toward the Chinaman, to catch sight of the soles of 
his shoes as he crept rapidly m amongst the trees, 
a pretty evident sign tliat he too l^ad recognized his 

enemy. 

Nice evening, mate/' said the big fellow, advanc- 
ing, as Gunson sat by me, coolly filling his pipe. 
" Ah, I just want a light." 

He came closer, looking sharply round, while we 
could hear the trampHng and breaking of the fir- 
boughs, as others were evidently close at hand. 



K 



472 TO THE WEST. 

Gunson drew a burning stick from the fire, and 
offered it to the nmn, ^Yho took it, and said quietly, 
as he lit his own i^ipQ 

" Camping here for the night, mate ? " 

" Yes : camping liere." 

" Going on in the morning ? " 

" No ; tliis is my chaim." 

The man droj^ped tlie burning stick, and stared at 
Gunson. 

"What?" he said. "Oh no, that won't do. Me 
a;.d my mates have ch^jsen tliis patch, so you'll have 
to go hi<^lier up or bjwor down; haven't we, lads?" 
he continued, as one by one the rest of the gang 
came up, 

" Ea ? all right, yes, whatever it is," said one of 
them, whom I recognized as the second of Quong's 
assailants. 

"There, you see," continued the first man; ''it*s 
all right, so you'll have to budge.'* 



u >7., " 



No," said Gunson, quietly; *'this is my claim. 
I've been here some days now, and here I stay." 

" Oh, we'll see about that," said the fellow, in a 
bullying tone. " It's the place for us, so no nonsense. 
Been heie some days, liave you ?" 

"Yes, some days now, my lad; and the law gives 
me a piior light." 

'All, but there arn't no law up here yet. Look 
heie," he cried, suddenly seizing Gunson, and forcing 

him back. " What's the pay dirt worth ? How 
much gold have you got ? How Why, hallo ! it's 
you, is it? Here, old lad," he cried to the otlier 
speaker, " it's our wrastling friend. I told you we 
should run up agen each other ngain, and why 



}} 



gunson's decision. 473 

of course here's the boy too. This is quite 
jolly. 

*' Keep your hands off/' said Gunson, shaking 
himself free, and springing up, an example "we 
followed. *'This part of the country's wide enough, 
so go your way. I tell you again, this claim is mine. 
What I make is my business, so go." 

" Hear all this ? " said tlie big fellow, quickly. 
** Hear this, mates ? We arn't inside a fence now, 
with a lot o' riflemen ready, so just speak up, some 
of you. Isn't this the spot we mean to have isn't 
this the claim Tom Dunn come up and picked ? " 

'' Yes, }es," came in chorus, as the men closed up 

round us in the gatliering gloom; while I felt sick 

with apprehension, and stood ready to spring away 

as soon as Mr. Gunson gave the order to go, while, 

fortunately for us, the way Avas open, being beyond 

the fire. 

** Yon hear, mate/' cried the big fellow^ fiercely, 

"so no more words. You and your boys can go, and 
think yourselves lucky we don't slit your eais. Do 



you hear ? ' 

*' Yes," said Gunson, smiling. 

" There's plenty of other places, so be off. Where's 
your traps ? Now then, cut !" 

He took a step foi ward, and his companions 
seemed about to ru^h at us, when Mr Gunson's 
voice rang out 

" Tent 1 " 

We sprang across the fire, "whose thin smoke half 
hid us as we rushed in among the trees, and seized 
our weapons. 

" Scared 'em," roared the big fellow ; and there 



474 TO THE WEST. 

was a chorus of laughter from his companions, who 
gathered about the fire, kicking it together to make 
a blaze, and get lights for their pipes. 

We w^ere in daikness, and they were in full light, 
the flames flashing up, and giving a strangely pictur- 
esque aspect to the group. 

" Soon jobbed that job,'* said the big fellow. " How 
they ran 1 wonder whether they got any dust.*' 

" You ought to hav^e searched 'em," said the 
second. *I know they had, or they wouldn't have 
run." 

" Coch" wdiispered Gunson, as there was a moment- 
ary pause; and the men all started, and their hands 
went to their hips for their pistols, as the ominous 
clicking of our pieces was heard. 

" Bail up ! " roared Gunson, his voice pealing out 
of the darkness ; '' you are covered by rifles, and the 
man who moves dies.'' 

There wnc; an angry growh ^ind the men threw np 

their hands, one of them holding a pistol. 

"Put that iron away," roared Gunson; and the 
man slowly replaced it, and then raised his hands 
like his fellows. 

"Now go back the way you came, or strike up 

further," said Giinson, firmly. " Show your faces here 

again, and it is at your own risk, for I shoot at sight. 
Offi" 

There was a low muttering growl at this, and the 
men walked slowly away in the direction by which 
they had come, while we sat listening till there was 
not a sound. 

" Gone," I said, with tlie painful beating of my 
heart calming down. 



gunson's decision. 475 

"Yes, my lad, gone,*' said Ganson ; " and we shall 
have to follow their example. It is a horrible shame, 
but till we have people sent up by the governor, 
those scoundrels take the law in their own hands." 

" But they will not dare to come back." 

" I don't know. But I shal 1 not dare to tiy and 
hold the place against such a gang." 

" But you weren't afraid of 'em ? " said Esau. 

" Indeed, but I was," said Gunson, with a bitter 

laugh, " horribly afraid. I should have fought to the 
end though, all the same, and so would you." 

" Dunno/' said Esau ; " but I was going to try and 
hit one, for I thought it a pity to waste a shot, and I 
can hit without killing; can't I, Mayne Gordon ?" 

"Don't talk about it," I said, with a shudder. 

"Why not? Wish we couid wound all that lot 
like I wounded you, and that they would be as bad 
for six months." 

"Don't talk," said Mr. Gunson. "We will not 
stir to-night, and the best way will be not to show 
ourselves only one at a time to make up the fire. 
No sleep to night, lads; or if there is, it must be in 
turns. Here, Quong ! What tree has he gone up ? " 

There was no reply, and we sat listening with the 
darkness closing in all around, and the silence grow- 
ing painful. It was a weary watch in the gloom, 
though outside the fire lit up the valley, and from 
time to time I went out and threw on a few sticks, 
just enough to keep it up. 

I don't know what time it was, probably about 
midnight, when Mr. Gunson said softly. 

" Two will be enough to watch. You, Dean, lie 
down and take your spell till you are called." 



JJ 



47G TO THE WEST. 

There was no reply. 
" Do you hear ? " 
Still no answer. 

" What ! " cried Mr. Gunson, " has he forsaken 
us ? " 

" No, no," I whispered ; " here he is, and fast 

asleep. 

Mr. Gunson uttered a low, half contemptuous 
laugh. 

"Nice fellow to trust with our lives," he said. 
"Shall I wake him to watch while we sleep?" 

" Don't be hard upon him," J said. " He was very 
tired, and it always was his weak po'nt he would go 
to sleep anyAvhere." 

"And your weak point to defend your friends, 
eh, Mayne ? There, I will not bo hard upon him. 
Talk in whispers, and keep on the q^iti vive ; we nuist 
not be surprised. Are you very tiied ? " 

" Not at all now," I said. *' I don't want to go to 

sleep." 

" Then we'll discuss the position, Mayne. Hist ! " 

We listened, but the faint crack we heard was 
evidently the snapping of a stick in the fire, and Mr. 
Gunson went on. 

" Now, l\[ayne," he said, " after years of such toil 
as few men have lived thiough, I have found wealth. 
No, no, don't you speak. Let me have the rostrum 
for awhile.'* 

He had noted that I was about to ask him a ques- 
tion, for it was on my lips to say, " How did you get 
to know of this place ? " 

*' I am not selfish or mad for wealth," he continued. 
*' I am working for others, and I have found what I 



gunson's decision. 477 

want. In a few months, or les^, I shall be a rich man 
again, and you and your friends can take your share 
in my prosperity. That is, if I can hold my own 
here till law and order arc established. If I cannot 
hold my own, I may never have anotlier chance. In 
other words, if those scoundrels oust me, long before 
I can get help from the settlement they will have 
cleared out what is evidently a rich hoard or pocket 
belonging to old Dame Nature, where the gold has 



been swept. Now then, for myself I am ready to 
dare everything, but I have you two boys with nie, 
and I have no liglit to risk your injury, perhaps your 
lives. What do you think I ought to do ? " 

*' Stand your ground," I said, hrndy, ** I would." 
I said this, for 1 had a lively recollection of the 
cowardice these men had displjyed, both at the Fort 
and here, as soon as they bad been brought face to 
face with the rifles. 

Gunson grasped my hand an 1 pressed it hnrd 

" Thank you, my lad,'' he said, in a low deep 
whisper. *' I half expected to hear you say this, but 
my conscience is hard at woik with nie as to whether 
I am justified in tying your fate up with that of such 
an unlucky adventurer as I am." 

" I am only an adventurer too," I said ; " and it is 
not such very bad luck to have found all this gold." 

He was silent for a few minutes, as if he were 

thinking deeply, but at last he spoke. 

"I've been weighing it all in the balance, Mayne," 
he said, *' and God forgive me if I am going wrong, 
for I cannot help myself. The gohi is very heavy in 
the scale, and bears down the beam. I cannot, 
gambler though I may be, give up now. Look here, 



478 TO THE WEST. 

Mayne, my lacl, here is my decision. I am going to 
try and get a couple of good fellows from down below 
to come in as partners. So as soon as ifc is light 
you had better get back to the Fort, explain your 

position, and I know Mr. Raydon to be so straight- 
forward and just a man, that he will forgive you." 

" There is nothing to forgive,'' I said, firmly ; " and 
I'd sooner die than go back now." 

*' Nonsense I heroics, boy." 

" It is not," I said. *' Mr. Gunson, would two 
strange men, about whom you know nothing, be 
more true to you than Esau Dean and I would ? " 

" No ; I am sure they would not," he cried eagerly. 

*' Then I shall stay with you, and whatever I do 
Esau will do. He will never leave me. Besides, he 
is mad to get gold too. We are only boys, but those 

men are afraid of the rifles, and even if they mastered 
us, they wou'd not dare to kill us.'' 

*'No, my lad, they would not," cried Mr, Gunson. 
" Then you shall stay." 

He turned toward me, and grasped my hand. 

** And look here, Mayne, I have for years now been 
the rou<ih-lookinsr fellow you met in the steerage of 
the ship ; but I thank heaven there is still a little of 
the gentleman left, and you sliall not find me unworthy 
of tiie trust you place in — Ati ! " 

T started hack^ for there was the sound of n heavy 

blow, and Mr. Ganson fell forward upon liib face, 
while two strong hands seized me from behind, and 
I was thrown heavily, while some one lay across my 
chest. 



CHAPTER XLVI 




THE KEPKEbENTATIVE OF THE LAW. 

IGHT behind liim, mate. Don't be 
afraid. Tie his thumbs together too." 
I heard these words as I lay there 
in the darkness^ and knew that our 
assailants must be securing Gunson, while directly 
after Esau's angry expostulatioQS told what was going 
on with him. 

"Let go, will you I Oh, I say, it hurts. "What 
yer doing of ? Here, hi ! ^Ir. Gunson, Mayne 
Gordon, don't be such cowauls as to run away and 
leave a fellov/. They're a kiihng of me.'' 

"Hold your row, -will you," cried a gruff voice that 
was familiar to me now. *' There, you won't run 

away in a hurry. Have you fieri that otlior c;linver 

up ? 

"No," growled the man, who was lying across me. 

" Look sharp then, and let's see what they've got 
to eat. Done the job neatly this time." 

" Yes," said another voice, whose words made me 
shudder; "bit too well, mate. This chap's a dead 



uu. 



it 



480 TO THE WEST. 

" Bah I not lie. Crack on the head with a soft 
bit o' wood won't kill a man. Here, let's see what 
they've got. Make up that fire a bit. Plaguey 
dark." 

While this was being said, I felt hands busy about 
my hands and legs, and then a voice by mc said — 

" There he is, tiglit as a bull-calf in a butcher's 
cai t," 

Soon after the fire blazed up vividly, sending its 
light in amongst the trees ; and I saw the laces of 
the two big fellows, our old friends, and several of 
the others, who, after making suie of the rifles and 
rc\oIvers, hunted out what food there was in 
Gunson's little tent, and began to piej^aie themselves 
a meal. 

" Don't seem to be no whiskey," said the big 
fellow, who was leader, as he passed close by mc ; 
and there I lay listening, peifectly helpless, and \\ith 
my heart beating heavily with dread, as I pondered 
on the man's words about Gun&on. 

I waited till the men were talking round the fire, 
and then whispered 

" Mr. Gunson — Mr. Gunson," but there was no 
reply, and a chill feeling of horror ran through me, 
and the cold dew gathered on my forehead. 

"Ain't you going to say a word to me, Mayne 

Gordon ? '* snid Esau, in a piteous voice. 

" Say ? What can I say ? " I replied. 

" Dunno, but you might say something. They've 
tied me so tight that the ropes cut right down to the 
bone." 

" So they have me, and it hurts horribly." 

" Can't hurt you so much as it does me. Pretty 



>> 



THE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE LAW. 481 

sort of chap you were to keep watch, and let them 
jump on us like tliat," 

" Pretty sort of fellow you were to go to sleep," I 
returned, bitterly. 

*' Didn't go to sleep/' grumbled Esau. " Only 
shut my eyes for a moment." 

" There, don't make paltry excuses/' I said, angrily. 

" Dare say you two was asleep too/' he said, sulkily. 
'' I say, have they kille 1 poor old Gunson ? 

" Don't — -don't — don't ' " I whispered, piteously ; 
and in spite of the pain it gave me, I rolled myself 
over and struggled along, till at last, after a terrible 
struggle, I reached Gunson's side. 

"Mr. Gunson," I said; "Mr. Gunson, pray, pray 
speak." 

He uttered a low groan, and it sent a thrill of joy 
through mc. 

" Hurray ! " whispered Esau ; " he ain't dead. I 

say, can't we get untied and <]rop on to them now 

when they don't expect it ? " 

*' Impossible/' I said, bitterly, " they've got the 
rifles too/' 

" Oh, I say," groaned Esau, "ain't it too bad, Mayno 
Gordon ! Just as we was all going to be rich, and 
now we shall be cheated out of it all. Only wish [ 
could get my hands undone. 

What ho would have done I cannot say, for Iiis 
hands were tied fast, and we lay there listening to 
the talking and coarse laughter of the men about the 
fire, and a faint groan now and then from Mr. 
Gunson, till the day began to break ; and as the sun 
lit up the misty valley, and shot its bright, golden 
arrows through the trees, the men rose, and two of 

H H 



f> 



482 TO THE WEST. 

them took hold of Mr. Gunson's head and heels, and 
carried him out into the open. 

" Dead ? " said one of them. 

"Not he. Take a harder crack to kill him/' said 
the big fellow. *' Bring out them two boys and lay 
'em here. I'm Sfoino^ to hold a court." 

" Here, mind what you're doing," cried Esau, as 
he was lifted. " You hurt." 

" Hold your row, warmint/' growled one of his 
hearers; and as Esau kicked out viciously, they 
threw him down by Gunson just as if he was a sack 
of wheat. 

"All right, cowards," exclaimed Esau, viciously. 
" I'll serve you out for this." 

I set my teeth hard, so as not to make a sound, 
though they hurt me horribly, and I too was thrown 
down on the grass near the fire, while the big leader 
seated himself on a stone, took out and filled his 

pipe^ ht it with a burning brand, and then began to 

smoke, while the men formed a circle round. 

" Now then, young 'un," the big rufRan said to me, 
" speak up, and we shan't hurt you, but if you don't 
tell the whole truth, one of my mates here will take 
you into the woods there, and use his knife.'' 

" And then you'll be hung," said Esau, sharply, 

" For cutting off his ears, monkey," growled the 
fellow. " Well, they wouldn't do it for cutting off 
yourn, so we'll try them first." 

" Yah 1 you daren't," cried Esau, viciously. 

" Don't, don't," I said. '' It's of no good." 

" Not a bit," said the big fellow. " Now then, boy, 
where's your mate hid his pile '' " 

" I don't know," I said. 



THE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE LAW. 483 



>9 



" What ? No lies, or 
He clenched his fist, and held it towards me 
thieateningly. 

" I tell you I don t know, and if I did I wouldn't 

tell you." 

"We'll soon see about that. Now then, you/' he 
said, turning to Esau, '' where's your mate keep his 

pile ? " 

"Dunno," said Esau, laughing. " Find out." 

" Oh, we can soon do that. Won't take long. Here, 

you, how much did you get out of the stream every 

"Don't know," I said, " anything about it.'' 



" Ho ! Very good. I say, mates, who's got the 
sharpest knife ? " 

" All on us," said his principal companion the 
man who was with him first. 

" Well then, we'll have his ears off, and if that 
don't make him speak, his tongue ain't no use, and 
we'll have off that." 

" You dare to touch him," cried Dean, fiercely, " and 
I'll never rest till the police catch you." 

"Thank ye," said the big ruffian, and one man 
burst into a roar of laughter. " There, it's of no use, 
boys; tell us where he buried his pile, and you shall 
have a handful apiece. I don't know but what we'll 
let you stop in camp and cook for us. Now then^ out 
with it." 

''I told you before," I said firmly, " I don't know, 
and if I did I would not tell you." 

"Look here," said one of the men, "give him a 
taste o' Indian. That'll make him speak." 

" What d'yer mean ?" 



484 TO THE WEST. 

" Pull off his boots, and put his feet close to the 
fire to warm." 

" Oh ! " cried Esau, " I wish my hands were untied.'* 

"And serve him the same" said the man who had 
made the proposal. " It'll be a race between 'em 
who shall speak first." 

" There, it's all right. Ears off last. But they're 
going to speak ; arn't you, boys ? " 

We both remained silent. 

" Oh, very well," said the big fellow ; " off with 
their boots then." 

''Don't you say a word, Esau," I whispered; "it's 
only to frighten us." 

*' No, it arn't," said the big ruffian, fiercely, for he 
must have guessed what I said. *' It arn't done to 
frighten you. Off with 'em, lads, and hold their feet 
close. That'll make 'em speak —or squeak," he added, 

with a grin. 

"It will uot^ yon cowardly brute/' I cried, desper- 
ately, "for we neither of us know." 

" And him as does can't speak," cried Esau, fiercely. 
" Call yourselves men to tie us two lads up, and do 
this ? Yah ! you're afraid. 

" Where's he hid his pile, then ? " growled the big 
ruffian. 

"Don't answer him," I said; "it's of no use." 

" Not a bit, my saucy young whelps. Now I give 
you one more chance. Hold hard a moment," he cried 
to the men who held us. "Now then, where's that 

there gold ? 

"I don't know," I said, furiously, for the pain I 

suffered made me reckless ; " and I tell you again, if 
I did know I wouldn't say." 



ft 



y> 



THE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE LAW, 485 

" I say, mates/' said the big fellow, with mock 
seriousness, *' arn't it awful to hear two boys lie like 
that ? Must teach 'em better, mustn't us ? " 

There was a burst of laughter at this, and the men 
dragged off our boots and stockings. 

" That's the way," he said; " now set 'em down close 
to the fire, and just warm their soles a bit ; just to let 
'em know what it's like." 

"Oh, Esau!" I groaned^ as I was seized; but he 
did not hear me, for as they took hold of him he 
began to struggle and writhe with all his might. 
Then for a few moments I began to think that this 
was all done to frighten us, til] I heard Esau give a 
shriek of pain. 

"Now, will you tell us?" cried the big fellow. 
"Give the other a taste too." 

Four men laid hold of me, and they carried me 
close up to the fire, whose glow I felt upon my face, 

as T too mndfi a desperatp, eff^irf to escfipf^. l^ut it 

was useless, and I was turning faint with horror and 
di^ead combined, for in another moment they would 
have forced my feet close to the glowing embers, when 
I uttered a cry of joy, for Mr. Raydon, rifle in hand, 
suddenly strode out from among the pines, and I was 
dropped, for every man seized his weapon. 

" Put up your pistols," cried Mr. Raydon, in a voice 
of thunder, as he came up to us, his piece in his left 
hand, while with his right he stiuck the man nearest 
to me a blow full in the eyes which sent him stagger- 
ing across the fire, to fall heavily on the other side. 

" Stand fast, mates," cried the big ruffian, fiercely; 
" he's only one. It's him from the Fort, and we've 
got my gentleman now." 



486 TO THE WEST. 

" Stand back, sir ! " roared Mr. Raydon, " if you 
value your life." 

" Give up that gun if you value yours," cried the 
man, and, bowie-knife in hand, he sprang right at 
Mr, Raydon. 

But at that moment there "^vas the sharp crack of 
a rifle, the ruffian's legs gave way beneath him, and 
he fell forward, sticking his knife deep into the earth. 
'' Fool ! I warned you," said Mr. Raydon, hoarsely. 
*' Stand ! all of you. You are surrounded and covered 
by rifles look ! " 

He pointed to where a thin film of smoke rose 
from among the pines, close by where Esau had 
blazed the tree. 

"It's a lie, mates," groaned the prostrate ruffian; 
" there's only two of 'em. Dcu't let him bully you 
like that." 

" No, mate," cried his chief companion. " It was 
a shot from behirid, Conie on." 

He in turn rushed at Mr. Raydon, who merely 
stepped back as the man raised his hand to strike, 
when a second shot rang out from tlie same place, 
and, w4th a yell of agony, the hand which held a 
knife dropped, and the blade fell with a jingling sound 
upon a block of stone. 

" Wdi you believe me now ? " said Mr. Raydon. 
" I tell you there are men all round you, and every 
one is a marksman who can bring you down. Do 
you surrender ? " 

"No," cried the big ruffian, through his set teeth, 
as he dragged himself up on his hands. " It's the 
same one fired both shots. Mates, you won't cave in 
and give up a claim like this?" 



THE REPKESENTATIVE OF THE LAW. 487 

" No !" came in chorus. " It's our claim, and we'll 
fight for it." 

"It is Mr. Gunson's claim," I cried, angrily; ''and 
it was ours before he came." 

" If any one has a right to the claim, it is I," said 
Mr. Raydon; "and I give you warning, my men, if 
one of you is seen in these parts after to-day, he shall 
be hunted down and placed in irons till he can be 
sent back to the coast for attempted murder and 
robbery." 

" Don't listen," cried the big ruffian, hoarsely ; and 
I could see that he was ghastly pale. " He's nobody. 
He's trying to scar' you. Stand up and fight for 
your rights." 

** Mr. Raydon, quick !" I shouted. *' Take care !" 

I was too late, for a revolver shot rang out, fired 
by the second man ; but it was with his left hand, 
and I uttered a cry of joy, for it had missed. 

" Ket^p to your places/' cried Mr. Raydon ; "T am 

not hurt. Gray and number two advance. Stop- 
number two and number three advance, and collect 
their weapons. You others cover your men. Gray, 
brincr down the next who lifts a hand." 

Two of the men from the Fort ran out from the 
pines, rifie in hand ; but at that moment there was a 
crackling and rustling of branches, and one by one 
at least a dozen gold finders from below came running 
up, armed with rifles and revolvers. 

" Ah," cried the big ruffian, from where he lay ; 
"come on, mates. They're trying to put a stop to 
the gold washing, and to rob us of our claim." 

**Gag that scoundrel if he speaks again/' cried 
Mr. Raydon, coolly, as the rough-looking men clustered 



488 TO THE WEST. 

together, dirt-stained, unkempt, and drenched with 
water some of them, and all anxiously handling their 
pieces. There was a low angry murmur from the 
new-comers, and our assailants shouted 

" Yes ; come to rob us of our claim." 

"Silence!" cried Mr. Ray Jon, turning then to 
the gold-finders. "I am Mr. Daniel Raydon, chief 
officer of Fort Elk, the station of the Hudso£i's Bay 
Company." 

" Ay, that's right," said one of the new comers. 

" I stand to all here as the magistrate of this dis- 
trict till the Governor, her Majesty's representative, 
sends officers to preserve order, and protect you and 
your lights and claims in this newly discovered gold- 
field." 

" That's right, sir; that's right, sir," said the same 
man. "But when we've chosen claims you're not to 
take them away." 

" Hear, hear ! " roared the big ruffian, faintly 

"And shoot him down,'^ cried another of the fresh 
comers ; and there was a loud murmur like a chorus 
of approval. 

" Of course not, my men," said Mr. Raydon, calmly. 

"Don't listen to him. It's a robbery," cried one 
of the big ruffian's gang. '' Fired at us; shot two of 
our men." 

*' Yes ; we heard the shots," said the first gold- 
finder. 

" And I am glad you have come," said Mr. Raydon. 
*' Now then, you boys. Has either of you seen a 
man here and those two lads before ? " 

''Seen the man," said the first speaker; "not the 
boys." 



THE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE LAW. 489 

"Well, do you kuow he was working this claim 
with a Chinaman ? '* 

" Yes/' said another ; " I saw the Chinaman only 
yesterday mornmg." 

" Last night the Chinaman came to the Fort to 
tell me they were attacked by a gang of ruffians, and 
I brought my men over the mountains to come to 
their help." 

" It's all a lie," said the big fellow, in a faint voice. 

" Ask the boys, my good fellows," said Mr. Raydon. 
*'Ask them where Mr. Gunson is." 

"Lying yonder," cried Esau, "half dead. They 
did it." 

" These boys are bound too, you see. Tell them, 
Mayne Gordon, what they were about to do when I 
came to your help." 

"Hold our feet in the fire to make us tell where 
the gold is hidden." 

"No, no; A bit of a game," chorussed the gang. 

" Look at my feet," cried Esau, piteously ; "is that 
a bit of a game ? " and he tried to hold up his bound 
legs, which the leader of the new-comers raised and 
examined. 

" It's true enough," said the chief speaker, indig- 
nantly ; and a roar of execration arose. 

" It is all true," cried Mr. Raydon. " Where is the 
Chinaman ? " 

" Allee light me come along," cried Quong; and 
there was a roar of laughter, for his voice came from 
high up in a tree. 

" Come down, Quong , there is no danger," said 
Mr. Raydon. " Some of you cut these poor lads' 
limbs free. Stop, fool!" he roaied, as one of the 



£C 



490 TO THE WEST. 

gang began to sidle oif. " Stand, all of you, if you 
value your lives. Fire ou the first scoundrel who tries 
to escape. I have men planted, and good shots," he 
said to the leader of the gold-finders. 

You carry it ^^ith a high hand, governor," said 
this man, rather abruptly. 

" Well, sir, I have come to save these people here. 
I should have done the same for you. This is 
English ground, where every man^s life and property 
must be protected by the law. For the time being I 
represent the law, and I'll have myself obeyed. Now 
what have 3^ou — what have any of you to say ? " 

" Three cheers for old England and the law ! " cried 
the man. '^ I beg your pardon, sir : you're right, and 
I'm wront^. What shall we do? Hansf this lot ? " 

" That's not obeying the law," said Mr. Raydon, 

smiling. " No ; two of them aie wounded. Their 
leader has his thigh broken ; and his companion his 
hand smashed, as he tried to stab me. They hnve 
got their punisliment. Disarm the rest. Then four 
of my men shall go with you to see these scoundrels 
well down the valley. If they show their faces here 
again they know the risks." 

" Right I " cried the leader ; and he snatched the 
revolver from the nearest man, and his example was 
so rapidly followed, that in a few minutes the utterly 
cowed gang was huddled together, unarmed, and 
guarded by four of the Company's people, who had 
advanced from the wood at a word from their chief. 

"And now what about our claims along this 
stream?" said the leader of the new comers. 

*'I am here to help you maintain your just rights, 
sir," said Mr. Raydon, quietly. " Now help me to 



THE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE LAW. 491 

maintain order, and to see to the wounded men. 
Bring lint and bandages, Gray." 

And as that individual produced the linen from 
his haversack, Mr. Raydon handed his lifie to one 
of the gold finders, and went down on one knee to 
examine Mr. Gunson's inj ury , w^hich he carefully 
washed and bandasjed. 

" A terrible cut," he said, in answer to my inquir- 
ing eyes, "and concussion of the brain. I hope not 
more serious. Now, my man," he continued, turning 
to the big ruffian, "you tned to take rny life, and 
I have got to try and save yours." 

The fellow made no ans^ver, but winced and 
groaned with pain as his shattered limb was set and 
supported by rough splints. 

"This fellow will have to be carried," said Mr. 
Raydon, rising; ''he will not walk again for many 
months. Now, sir, you." 

He bent over the second luffian nnd examined his 

hand, bathed and bandaged it, and then went to 
the stieam to wash his own. 

By this time several more armed men had come 
up from the low^er pait of the stream, and eagerly 
asked for paiticulars, while I heard a great deal, and 
noted nearly everytliing, as I sat by Mr. Gunson, 
suffering agonies, for my arms and legs throbbed 
with the return of the circulation. 

Mr. Raydon had only just finished his task when 
the chief speaker of the gold finders came up with 
half a dozen more. 

"All my mates here, sir," he said, ''from down 
stream ask me to speak, and say we thank you for 
what you've done. We want protection, and law, 



492 TO THE WEST. 

and order, and for every man to make his pile in 
peace. We see you've got half a dozen men with 
you, and you talk of sending four down the river 
with this gang." 

*'Yes," said Mr. Raydon. 

'* Well, sir, we think we can save you that job. 
We'll see those chaps off the premises." 

"No violence," said Mr. Raydon, sternly. 

" Not if they behave themselves, sir, I promise 
that. For we think, as there's no knowing who 
may come next, wc should be glad if you'll keep 
your men, so that in case of trouble we can appeal 



ft 



') 



to you. 

'' Very well," said Mr. Raydon ; " let it be so 
then.*' 

" Don't trust him," snarled one of the wounded 

men; "he'll rob you all of your claims." 

" Not he," said the chief speaker. 

" No," said Mr. Raydon, " and the first step I shall 
take will be to leave two of my men in charge of 
this claim, which has been taken up by the wounded 
prospector, Gunson. 

"That's right; that's fair," came in chorus, and 
after a little more conversation the men moved off 
with the prisoners, the Avounded fellow being carried 
on a litter of poles. 

*' F.d wards/' said Mr Raydon, *' you and another 

had better stay here with the Chinaman. Gordon, 
where is the gold ? 

" I have not the least idea, sir." 

" Oh, then you, Dean." 

"Don't know a bit, sir," said Esau, who was 
nurtoing his blistered feet. 



)) 



THE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE LAW. 493 

" Here, Quong, where has Mr. Gunson stored the 
gold he has found ? " 

"Me no sabbee, sah. Quong give allee gole Mis 
Gunson take callee. No sabbee. Hide allee gole 
ploply/' 

*' Cut poles and lash them together," said Mr. 
Raydon to Gray ; " we must carry him to the Fort. 
Gordon, Dean, yon had better come and stay till he 
is better/' 

I looked up at him donbtingly. 

" Yes/' he said ; " it will be best." 

Half an hour after we were on our way back, with 
Esau limping painfully. Two of the miners volun- 
teered to help carry the litter, so as to relieve the 
four we had, and the claim was left in charge of 
the two others, for whom, as we came away, Quong 
was making, as he expressed it, "plenty good flesh 
tea." 

It was dark night again as we reached the gate 

of the Fort, and heard the deep-toned baying of the 
great dog ; and a few minutes later Mrs. John was 
holding my hands, and as she kissed me there was 
a tear left upon my cheek. 

'' So glad, so very glad to see you back, Mayne," 
said Mr, John, warmly. "I hope all the trouble now 
is at an end." 

I said nothing, only helped to get Mr. Gunson in 
his old quarters, after Esau hid at last extricated 
himself from his mother's arms. 

"Is it all real, Esou?" I said, after Mr. Raydon 
had gone, telling us not to be alarm ed at Mr. 
Gunson's insensibility, for it might be hours before 
he came to. 



494 TO THE WEST. 

" I shall come and see him twice in the course of 

the night/' he saicl^ as he went out. "You, Esau, 
you must rest those feet/' 

" Yes, sir ; all right/' said Esau ; and it was then 
that I said, " Is it all real ? " 

" If your feet smarted like mine do, you wouldn't 
ask that/' he replied, sulkily. " I want to know why 
I wasn't carried back in a litter too ? " 

*' It was impossible/' I said. 

" Wasn't impossible to have given a fellow a pig- 

a-haok Oh^ my feot, my feet I Ob^ yes, it's precious 

real/' 

" I never expected to come back here like this,'* 
I said. 

" Nor I neither/' replied Esau. '* I say, you'll 
keep watch by Mr. Gunson, won't you ? " 

''Yes, of course/' I said. 

" That's right. I'm going to do something for my 
trotters." 



" What are you going to do ? " 

"Gooff to sleep." 

In a few minutes I was listening to his hard 
breathing, and asking myself whether, after the past 
night, I could do duty in watching the wounded 
man, when there were footsteps, and two of the men's 
Indian wives came in. 

"To nurse Mr. Gunson," they said, in fair English, 
and a short time after I too was fast asleep. 



CHAPTER }(LVIL 



ALMOST SOLDIERS. 




AWOKE that next morning sore, miser- 
able, and seeing everything through the 
very revei'se of rose coloured spectacles. 
For I was back at the Fort, and it now 

looked a very different place to the home I had 
journeyed so many months to find when I was 
sanguine and hopeful. 

There appeared to be a dead weight upon me ; and 
as I first opened my eyes, I felt as if the best thing 
I could do would be to rouse up Esau, and go right 
away. But as I looked round, my eyes lit upon Mr. 
Gunson lying insensible in hi? bed, with Mrs. Dean 
seated patiently by his side, and I felt ashamed of 
my thoughts, for I could not go away and leave one 
who had shown himself so tiue a friend from our 
first meeting, and I at once determined, no matter 
how painful my position might be, to stay by his 
side, and tend him till he grew strong again. 

I shivered as I thought this, for I could just see 
his pale face below his bandaged head, and the ideas 
came suppose he does not recover never grow 
strong again ? suppose he dies ? The weak tears 



496 TO THE WEST. 

rose to my eyes at the thought, and I lay wistfully 
gazing at him in the silence of that bright morning, 
for I felt that I should be almost alone out there in 
that wild, new country. For Mr. and Mrs. John 
would certainly be more and more influenced by 
Mr. Raydon; and as I could not stay at the Fort, I 
should never see them. The old plans of staying 
with them, and building up a new house somewhere 
in one of the lovely spots by the river, were gone, 
and I told myself that I should soon have to say 
good bye to them. 

There would be Esau, though ; — perhaps not : for 
Mrs. Dean would naturally want to stay where there 
were women ; and as she had become attached to 
Mrs. John, the chances were that she would stay 
at or near the Fort, and that would influence Esau, 
who would be forgiven by Mr. Raydon, and stay too, 
while I should go off into the wilderness all alone. 

Taken altogether, I was about as miserable and 
full of doleful ideas as a boy of my age could be. 
Not one bit of blue sky could I see through the 
clouds that shut in my future ; and I was growing 
worse as I lay there Avith an indistinct fancy that I 
had heard Mr. Raydon's voice in the night, when a 
bright ray of sunshine came through the window, and 
made a ruddy golden spot on the pine-wood ceiling. 

It was only a ray of light, but it worked wonders, 
for it changed the cunenfc of my thoughts, setting 
me thinking that the sun was just peeping over the 
edge of the mountain lying to the east, and bright- 
ening the mists that lay in the valleys, and making 
everything look glorious as it chased away the 
shadows from gully and ravine, till it shone full upon 



ALMOST SOLDIERS. 497 

the river, and turned its grey waters into dazzling, 
rippling, and splashing silver 

I don't know how it was, but that sunlicfht be^^an 
to drive away the mists and dark vapours in my 
mind. I did not feel so miserable, though I was 
painfully stiff and sore. The future was bright, my 
case not so hopeless, and I was just making up my 
mind that Esau would never forsake me, and that 
Mr. Gunson would not die, when Mrs. Dean looked 
round. 

"Ah, my dear," she said ; " awake ? " 

"Yes," I said, springing up all dressed as I was. 
"You have not been watching here all night ? " 

" Oh, no ; I only came on at daybreak. He's 
sleeping very calmly." 

" Has he spoken ? " 

"Oh dear no, and is not likely to for long enough. 
Such a pity as it is, poor man ! " 
"It is a terrible injury," I said. 

" Yes, my dear ; and how thankful I am it wasn't 
my poor Esau. What should I have done if it had 
been he ? " 

" It would have been terrible," I said. 

" Or you, my dear," she whispered hurriedly, as if 
in apology for not naming me before, 

" Oh, that would have been no consequence," I 
replied, bitterly. 

" Oh, my dear," she cried, with the tears in her 
eyes; "don't — don't talk like that. I know you've 
been in trouble, but we all have that, and they say 
it makes the happiness all the sweeter." 

" Yes, they say so," I replied gloomily. 

" Ah, it does, my dear. There, as Mr. John said 

I I 



498 TO THE WEST. 

to me about you, * it will all come right in the 
end.'" 

*' Here, what's the matter ? ' said Esau gruffly, still 
half asleep. " Time to get up ? Hullo, mother 1 
Oh, oh ! I recollect now. I was dreaming about old 
Quong. I say ! Oh, my feet my feet ! " 

" There, there, there, my dear ; they'll soon be 
better," said Mrs. Dean, bending over him ; and the 
sight of those two, with Esau's pettish ill humour, 
quite drove away the rest of my gloom for the time. 

For as Mrs. Dean bent over her son, he pushed 
her away. 

''Don't, mother; I do wish you wouldn't." 

"Wouldn't what, my dear?'' 

"Talk to me, and pull me about hke that." 

"Hush! not so loud, iny dear. You'll wake Mr. 
Gunson." 

"Bother Mr. Gunson 1 There you go again. 
Can't you see I'm growed up now?" 

" Yes, of course, Esau." 

"No you can't, or you wouldn't talk to me like 
that. You always seem to treat me as if I was two 
years old ; you'll be wanting to rock me to sleep 
some night." 

" Esau, my dear, how can you ? " 

" Well, so you will. Pet, pet, pet, every time you 
cfet near me," 



« 



Esau, my darling," cried Mrs. Dean, excitedly. 

"What are you going to do?" 

''Get up." 

" With your feet like that ? " 

"Well, they'll be just the same if I lie here, and 



I'm not going to be ill. 



J? 



ALMOST SOLDIERS. 499 

"But you will be, dear, if yDu walk about." 

"Then I shall be ill. I'm not going to lie here 
for you to feed me \vith a spoon, and keep on laying 
your hand on my head." 

" Now, Esau, when did I try to feed you with a 
spoon ? " 

"I mean mettypborically" grumbled Esau. "You. 
always seem to think I'm a baby. Ah, if you begin 
to cry, I'll dance about and make my feet worse." 

Mrs. Dean wiped her eyes furtively, and Esau 
put bis arm round her and gave her a hearty kiss, 
which made her beam again. 

" Well," he said, turning to me with a very grim 
look, ** not much fun in getting gold, is there ? 
I say, who'd have thought of our coming back again 
like this ? What 'II Mr. Raydon say to us this 
morning ? " 

I felt half startled at the idea of meeting him 
again, but ray attention was taken up by a low 
muttering from Mr. Gunson, and I went with Mrs. 
Dean to his side, and stood watching her bathe his 
head till he sighed gently, and seemed to calm 
down. 

" Poor old chap ! " said Esau ; " he got a nasty 
one, that he did. I say, wonder how much gold him 

and old teapot had found ? " 

''Ohj never nnind that now/' 

" But 1 do," said Esau ; " and so would he mind 
if he could think and talk. Wonder where be hid 
it all ? Let's ask Quong, because it oughtn't to be 
lost." 

I made no answer, but stood watching the injured 
man, while Esau preferred sitting down and nursing 



500 TO THE WEST. 

fiist one foot and then the other, but always obstin- 
ately refusing to lot his motlier touch them. 

"I say," he said, after a pause. 

" Weil." 

" What's old Raydon going to say to us ? It was 
very jolly of him to come and help us as he did, 
but he looked pickled thunder at me and you here. 
He won't let us stay. We shall have to start otf 



aii'aiu." 



"I suppose so," I said drearily, with my old 
troubles coming back ; and we relapsed into silence, 
till there was a soft light btep at the door, and 
Quong entered and looked sharply at the plain 

rough bed-place where Mr. Gunson lay. 

" Come over see hoAV d'ye do," he said quickly. 

*' Cap Gun&on no go long die self?" 
" No, no," I cried ; '' he will get well." 
"Yes; get well, ploper quite well, and go wash 

golo Makop flpsh b]oad — flosh toa ? " 

" No, not yet," said Mrs. Dean, who looked askant 
at the fresh-comer, and as if she did not approve of 
him. 

" Allee lio'ht. Wait. Good fi' makee blead cakee." 

" I say, Quong " whispered Esau, " did you two 
find much gold ? " 

Quong gave him a quaint laughing look. 

" You waitee littee bit. Allee same ask Mas 
Gunson. You sabbee ? " 

" But he can't tell us. I say, do 3'ou know where 
he hid what you got ? " 

" No ; no sabbee. Mas Gunson know allee same. 
You wait." 

Just then I heard a couj^h in the enclosure, and 



ALMOST SOLDIET^S. 501 

drew back a little uneasily as the door opened, and 
Mr. Raydon entered. 

** Good mornini^, my lads," he said, gravely and 
coldly. " Ah, Quong, you here ? Well, nurse, how 
is your patient ? " 

"He seems very nicely, sir, and I don't think there 
is much fever." 



*' Does he seem in great pain ? " 

" Only at times, sir, and then I bathe his temples." 

Quong looked sharply from one to the other, and 
began to fumble about under his blue cotton blouse 
till he produced from some bidden pocket a tiny thin 
bottle, less than my little finger, and gave it to Mr. 
Raydon. 

" Velly good," he saiii, eagerly. " You sabbee ? 
Touch velly little dlop allee long Cap Gunson head. 
No makee hurt then." 

"Ah, yes," said Mr. Raydon, taking the bottle. 
" I have seen this before ; " and as Gunson just then 
uttered an uneasy moan, the cork was taken out, and 
a very tiny drop spread with a finger lightly about 
his temples. 

"Makee seep," said Quong, smiling. "Yelly good." 

The essence certainly produced the required effect, 
and Quong showed his yellow teeth. 

" Not muchee," he said. " Velly lit dlop. Velly 
ofen ? No, no." 

"I understand," said Mr. Raydon, handing back 
the bottle. 

" No/' said Quong. " No. Keep all along. You 
sabbee ? " 

" Very well, I'll keep it," said Mr, Raydon ; and 
just then there was a tap at the door. 



502 TO THE WKST. 

" Come in." 

Gray entered. 

" Want me ? " 

"Bad newSj sir/' said Gray, in a sharp whisper. 
" That man from the little valley Barker he says 
his name is — " 

" Which was Barker ? " 

" That sensible man you shook hands with." 

''Wliat does he want?" 

** Wants to see you, sir. They started that gang 
down the river with half a dozen armed miners, and 
they rose against tliein in the liight. 



>} 



'*Yes," said Mr. Raydon, excitedly. "Well?" 

*' They killed two, wounded ail the rest, and they 



>j 



are all free again. 

" And their own wounded men ? " 

" Took them into the woods with them." 
" This is bad news indeed," said Mr. Raydon, be- 
ginning to pace the romn. 

"He wants to know what's to be done," said Gray. 

" I must think I must think," said Mr. Raydon, 
liastily. " Two men a\^ay guarding that claim." 

" Yes, sir. Weakens us." 

"Yes," said Mr. Raydon ; " and we must be weakened 
more. Two of our men must go to strengthen them 
at the claim. There must be four there." 

" Won't draw them away and give up the claim, 
sir ? " 

" No," said Mr. Raydon, firmly. " Go back to this 
Mr. Barker, and say I'll be with him directly." 

" Yes, sir," said Gray ; and he went out with all 
the quiet precision of a soldier. 

" Bad news bad news indeed," said Mr. Raydon, 



ALMOST SOLDIERS 50B 

half aloud. " More trouble to lay upon your shoulders, 
Mayne Gordon. All your fault." 

I felt a chill run through mc, and I believe a cold 

hard look must have come into my face. 

"Well, we must make the best of it. Of course 

you two lads must stop here." 

" If }0u wish it, sir,'* I said, " we will go directly." 

" I do not wish it, boy," he replied sternly. " Do 
you wish to leave those who have been your friends 
in the lurch now you have dragged all this trouble 
to their door ? " 

" No, sir," I said, as I set my teeth hard, deter- 
mined to be cool, in spite of the injustice with which 
I felt that I was being^ treated. 

" No, of course not. You have some stubborn 
pluck in you both of you." 

Esau growled in a very low tone, and made his 
raother look at him in a startled way, as if she had 
suddenly awakened to the fact tltnt her son posst^ssed 
the nature of a bear's cub. 

Mr. Raydon took another turn or two up and 
down the room. 

*' Mrs. Dean," he said, " I can do nothing more for 

your patient. No doctor could ; time is the only 
thing, ni come back as soon as I can. Meantime 
my sister will come to you, and you can have either 
of my men's wives to assist you in nursing. They 

are Indians, but well trained in that way. Do your 
best." 

" Mother always does," -growled Esau. 
Mr. Raydon gave him a sharp look, but Esau did 
not flinch. 

"Look here, you two," said Mr. Raydon, after a 



504 TO THE WEST. 

pause. " I am going to send two more of my men 
away, for the fellows in that gang are not going to 
beat me. The law-and-order party must and shall 
prevail. This will weaken my Kttle garrison, so you 
two will have to mount rifles, and take the places of 
two of my absent men/' 

" Yes, sir," I said, eagerly. " Til do my best." 

*' Thank you. Now, Esau Dean, what do you 

say ? " 

" Course I shall do as he does. Tm ready." 
"No, no, Esau, my boy. Your feet, your feet," 

cried Mrs. Dean, 

"Do be quiet, mother. There you go with the 
spoon again. Fellow don't shoot off a rifle with his 
foot." 

I saw Mr. Raydon bite his lips to repress a smile. 

" I had forgotten your burnt feet. Do they feel 
very bad ? " 

" Ohj pretty tidy^ sir^ bnt T ron't mind T slionid 

like to have a pop at one of them as held me to 
that fire." 

"Naturally," said Mr. E,aydon. 

" But I'm afraid I can't do much marcliine:." 

"You will be posted in one of the block houses." 

"That'll do," cried Esau. "Come along, Mayne 
Gordon/' 

" You have never used a rifle." 

"Why, Mr. Gunson there showed us all about it. 
Don't you be afraid ; I'll try." 

" Oh, Esau !" cried Mrs. Dean. 

"^nd mother shall nurse me when Tm wounded/' 

" Oh, my boy — my boy ! " 

" Silence, sir ! Mrs. Dean, he is only tormenting 



ALMOST SOLDIERS. 505 

3^ou. It is not likely that he will be hurt, but out 
here in the wilderness we do sometimes have to fight 
to protect the women and children. There, do not 
be uneasy; I see your son will do you credit." 

Esau gave a gulp, and turned red in the face, 
while I suffered a twinge of jealousy on finding that 
the lad, whom I blamed as the cause of all the 
trouble, should be spoken to in this way while I was 
treated with a coldness that, in my sensitive state, 
seemed to freeze all the better nature within me. 

" A pretty mess this, sir/' said Barker, as we 
joined him out in the enclosure. " Those stupid 
donkeys have let loose a nice gang. They'll be as 
savage as possible against everybody, and be coming 
down upon us just when we don't expect it." 

"But have they arms and ammunition ?" 

*' Plenty, sir. They stripped our men, and if we 
don't look out they'll strip us. Why, the little 

valley will never he safe again while they are ahont " 

" No," said Mr. Raydon. " ]t's a bad look-out, but 
we must take every precaution. You may rely on my 
helping you, as I promised, and if I am the unlucky 
one attacked first, I look for help from you." 

" And you shall have it, sir. I answer for the 
lads ^lp the valley. What do you propose doinp" 

first ? " 

''Nothing," said Mr. Raydon. 

The man stared at him aghast, and Mr. Raydon 
smiled. 

" But — but hadn't we better get a party together, 
and hunt them down, sir ? " 

"An excellent plan," said Mr. Raydon, *'but im- 
possible in this wild country. They would lead us 



506 TO THE WEST. 

a terrible dance, weary us out, and perhaps take 
advantage of our absence to plunder our places. 
The better way will be to keep a sharp look-out, 
and punish them if they attack us." 
'^ But if they take us by surprise, sir ? " 
*' They must not," said Mr. Raydon, quietly. " My 
advice to you is, that you go back and make arrange- 
ments for mutual support, so that all can hurry at 
once to the place attacked. You will make it one 
man's duty to act as messenger, and come directly to 
give Avarning here, and another to give notice up the 
valley at Gunson's claim." 

" And the two men there will come and help us ? 
Yes : that's good." 

** There will bo four of my men stationed thei*e," 
said Mr. Raydon. " That is a very likely place for 
the first attack, if they can find their way over the 
mountains and through the dense forest. The trouble 
began by their trying to seize that claim." 

^'Why not let them go to it again, and attack 
them when they are settled down ? " said Barker. 

" No, my man, it is not our line to attack ; let 
that come from the enemy. Besides, I particularly 
wish Mr. Gunson's claim to be reserved for him till 
he has recovered. So if the enemy find their way 
there you will go up to iny men's help. If there is 
anythmg you want from the Fort here at your camp, 
you can send up, and I will supply you if I can." 

" Thankye, sir, thankye. That's very neighbourly," 
said Barker. " I think the more of it because there's 
a report about that you were dead against the claims 

being taken up." 

I stared at Mr. Raydon wonderingly, for his 



ALMOST SOLDIERS. 507 

behaviour was inexplicable to me ; but I had no 
time given me for thought. As soon as Barker 
and th^ two men who came up with him had gone, 
Mr. Raydon chose two of his little garrison, and 
sent them^ well armed, and with as big loads of 
supplies as they could carry, by the near cut over 
the mountains, that is by the track taken when he 
and his men came to our help. 

Directly after, in a sharp military way, he led us 
to his little armoury, and gave us each a rifle and 
pistol, with a few words of instruction as to where 
the weapons were to be kept in readiness for use; 
and, in addition, what we were to da in the places 
of the two men who had gone. 

I was glad of this, for it took up my time, and 
gave me something else to think about. It was 
pleasant too — the duty of having to help in the 
defence of the Fort where my friends were gathered. 

"Some day he'll be sorry for it all," I said to 
myself; and I was brooding over the past again, 
when Esau utteied a low chuckle, which made me 
turn to him wonderingly. 

" Only think of it, Mayne Gordon/' he said. " What 

a game 1 " 

*' What is a game ? " 

" You always being so dead on to me about going 
for a soldipr, and here we are both of ns good as 
soldiers after all. Why, if he'd let us tackle one of 
those guns," he continued, pointing to a little cannon 
mounted in the block-house, "it would be like 
joining the Ryle Artilleree." 



CHAPTER XLVITI 



lost! 




E were not kept in doubt long about the 
proceedings of the enemy. I was in the 
strangers' quarters next day, talking in 
a whisper to Mrs. John, while taking 
her turn at nursing poor Gunson, who still lay per- 
fectly insensible, and so still that I gazed at him 

with feelings akin to terror, when Mr Raydnn c-ime 

in and walked straight to the bedside. We watched 
him as he made a short examination, and then in 
answer to Mrs. John's inquiring look 

"I can do nothing/' he said. "He is no worse. 
There is no fracture ; all this is the result of con- 
cussion of the brain, I should say, and we can only 
hope that nature is slowly and surely repairing the 
injury." 

"But a doctor, Daniel?" said Mrs. John. 

"My dear sister, how are we to get a surgeon to 
come up here ? It is a terrible journey up from the 
coast, and I believe I have done and am doing all 
that a regular medical man would do." 



it 



But 



>J 



'* Yes/' he said, smiling gravely, ^' I know you look 



LOST ' 509 

upon me as being very ignoraat, but you forget that 
I have had a good deal of experience since I have 
been out here. 1 learned all I could before I came, 
and I have studied a good deal from books since. 
Why, I have attended scores of cases amongst my 
own people — sickness, wounds, injuries from wild 
beasts, falls and fractures, bites from rattlesnakes, 
and I might say hundreds of cases among the 
Indians, who call me the great medicine man." 

" I know how clever you are, dear," said Mrs. 
John. 

" Thank you," he said, kissing her affectionately. 
** I ^^ish I were; but I am proud of one achieve- 
ment." 

" What was that, dear ? " 

"The prescription by which I cured you." 

Then, turning sharply on me, his face grew hard 
and stern again. 

"Well, Mayne Gordon," he said, "you have heard 
the news, of course ? " 

'*I liave heard nothing, sir," I said, eagerly, for it 
was pleasant to find him make the slightest advance 
towards the old friendly feeling. But my hopes 
were dashed the next moment, as I heard his words, 
and felt that they were intended as a reproach. 

" Your friends made a raid on one of the little 
camps nearest the river last night, and carried otf 
all the gold the party had washed." 

" Was any one hurt ? " said Mrs. John, excitedly. 

" Happily notliing beyond a few blows and bruises," 
replied Mr. E-aydon. " It was a surprise, and the 
gold diggers fled for help. When they returned in 
foi'ce the gang had gone. Taken to the forest, I 



510 TO THE WKST. 

suppose. Get back to your duty, Mayne/' he said ; 
and I hurried away to find Esau deep in conversa- 
tion "with Gray about the last night's attack. 

"Think they'll come up hcie ?" said Esau. 

"Like enough. If they do " 

"Well?" I said, for the man stopped. "If they 

do?" 

" I shall be obliged to fire straight/' he said, slowly. 
"Men who act like that become wild beasts, and 
they must be treated siniilaily." 

I shuddered slightly, as I thought of his skill with 
the rifle, 

"I know what you think," he said, gravely; "that 
it's horrible to shed blood. So it is; but I've got a 
wife here, and children, and out in a wild place like 
this, a man has to be his own soldier and policeman, 

and judge and jury too." 

" It seems very horrible, ' I said. 

"It IS very horrible, my lad, hut it's not our doing 

If these people wull leave us alone, we shall not 
interfere with them." 

"Of course not," said Esau. "Wonder whether I 
could hit a man." 

"I hope you will not have to try," said Gray. 
" It's what the Governor has been afraid of for years 
and years." 

I winced again, for it w^as as if everything I saw 
or heard tended to accuse me of destroying the peace 
of the place. 

"Wonder whether they'll come here to-night," 
said Esau. 

" We must be ready for them ; but I don't think 
it's likely/' said Gray. " They got a good deal of 



lost! 511 

plunder last night, and plenty of provisions, I 
should say that they will do nothing now for a few 
days. They'll wait till they think we are not on the 
look-out/' 

It proved as Gray said, and for the next few days 
there was no alarm. Communications had been kept 
up with the mining camps, and one morning, as I 
was talking with Mr. John about the terribly weak 
state in which Mr. Gunson lay, partaking of the food 
and medicine administered, but as if still asleep, Mr. 
Raydon came up. 

"Gordon," he said, *'you and Dean have wandered 
about well, and gone in nearly every direction, have 
you not ? " 

*'Yes, sir," I said, wondering what was coming. 

" Do you think you could find your way to Gunson's 
claim ? " 

"Of course, sir," I said, smiling. 

"I do not mean by the valley," he said, testily. 
" I' want some one to go by the short cut over the 
mountains the way I came to your relief." 

"I don't know, sir," I said. "I have never been 
there, but I will try." 

''Bravo!" said Mr. John. "Mayne, you're like 
Pat with the fiddle. He said he would try if he 
could play." 

"Are you willing to try ?" said Mr. Raydon. 

" With Dean, sir ? " 

" No ; alone. I cannot spare two." 

"Yes," I said, eagerly; " I'll go." 

" I do not see what harm could befall you," said 
Mr. Raydon, musingly. "The direction is well 
marked, and the trees are blazed through the bit 



512 TO THE WEST. 

of forest. Any beasts you came near would skurry 
off. Yes ; I think I will let you go. By the way, 
you may as well take your rifle and pistol." 

"Yes," I said, feeling quite excited over my 
mission. *' Have you anything for me to take to 
the men?" 

" No ; it is only a visit to an outpost, to let them 
see that they are not forgotten, and to ask them 
if they have seen the enemy, or want anything. 
But perhaps you had better go by the valley; it 
is surer." 

"I should like to try the near way, sir," 1 said. 

He gazed at me thoughtfully for a few moments. 

*'Well," he said, to my great satisfaction, "you 
shall try it. You ought to know every trail round. 
Go and make a hearty meal before you start, and 
then you need not take any provisions, for you can 
easily be back before dark. "Which way shall you 

go at fi rst ? " 

" Up through the pines at the back," I said. 

"No. Go down the valley to where that rounded 
rock stands up like a dome, and climb up at once, 
keeping to the left. Then go right over the side of 
the valley, and make straight for the big pine-forest 
you will see across the open, striking for the tallest 
pine at the edge. That tree is blazed with a white 
patch cut out by an axe. The trees right through 
are blazed, and from one you can see the next, and 
from that the next, so that you cannot go wrong." 

"I see," I said; '^ see." 

Then he went on and told me what to do when I 
got through the dense forest —this being a narrow 
corner which ran out into the open lands, and on the 



LOST 513 

other side went right off into tlie wilds, where it was 
impenetrable. He roughly sketched out points, but 
tresses, and ravines, wbicJi were to servo mc as land 
marks to make for; and then I was to go to right or 
left, as the case might be ; and one way and another, 
he marked down for me a series of prominences to 
make for, so as to gain one and then see another 
from it, till I reached to where I could look down 
into Golden Valley, as I called it now, right above 
Gunson's claim. 

He made me repeat my instructions, impressing 
upon me that I was to treat the landmarks he gave 
me just as I did the blazed trees in the forest, making 
sure of another s position bofojo I lett one, and, satis 
fied at last, he gave me a nod of the head, and said 
abruptly 

" Off as soon as you can." 

*' I should like to go with you, Mayne," sai<l ^[r. 
John J e-igoT'ly. 

'* No, no ! Nonsense ! " cried Mr. Raydon. " I 
cannot spare you, John. I may want you to shoot 
down a few hundreds of the enemy." 

Mr. John took these words so seriously that I could 
not help laughing, when he saw them in tlie rig] it 
light, came with me to my quarter'^, watched me 
make a good meal, and then walked with mo to the 
slope beneath the dome, whero he shook hands and 
stood to see me climb. 

"Be careful, my boy," he said, at patting. "It 
is very steep and dangerous." 

I laughed, and ran up the side feeling like a goat. 
There was something very delightful in the excur- 
sion, after the confinement within the block-house, 

K K 



514 TO THE WEST. 

and in the glorious suushiae and the bright clear 
air, I sprang forward, turning from time to time, as 
I cliuibed higlior^ to wave my hand to him, anvl look 
down on Foit and valley, till the ine(]^ualities of the 
wild, btony side hid him from my view. 

I felt in high spirits, ior this task made me think 
that Mr. Raydon was beginniug to trust me again; 
and as I went on I thought about Mrs. John and her 
gentle words, as she told me all would come right in 
the end. Then I began to think about poor Gunson, 
and wondered whether he would soon be better, as I 
hoped and prayed that ho would. 

This made me feel low-spirited for a while, but 
the glorious scene around me chafed these gloomy 
thoughts away, for tliere befoic me in the distance 
was the great pine towering up above its fellows at 
the edge of the forest. 

" Oh, it's easy enough to find one's way/' I said, 
and excited by my tabk I whistled, sang, and shouted, 
to have my voice come echoing back. 

" I want E&au over here," I said aloud, as I shifted 
the heavy rifle from one shoulder to the other. 
"How he \\ould enjoy it!" Then I be., an thinking 
of bow attentive Mr. Raydon was in his stern, grave 
way to poor Gunson, and it struck me that he must 
feel a great respect for him, or he would not be so 
careful, seeing bow he disliked it all, in keeping 

guard over his gold claim. 

Then I had to thiuk of my task, and climb over 
some rough ground, till I reached the first trees, which 
very soon hid the huge pine, aad found it to be not 
quite at the edge of the forest. But I soon caught 
sight ol it a^-ain, and on reaching it saw the great 



lost! 515 

mark or blaze in its side, and from it the next From 
this I could see another, and so found no difficulty 
in getting through the solemn groves. 

On the other side, as I stood by the last blazed 

tree, I had no difficulty in making out a vast ma?s 
of rock, for which I at once stepped out, and all 
proved to be so clear, there were so many landmarks 
in the shape of peculiar stones, falls, and clamps of 
trees, that I made my way easily enough, and felt no 
little pride in being so trusted 1 o tramp through these 
vast solitudes with a pistol in my belt and my rifle 
over my shoulder. 

"How grand ' how grand '" I kept on saying to 
myself, as I climbed to the top of some high point 
and looked around, while at such times a feeling of 
awe came over me at the silence and loneliness of 
the scene. 

I found my way at last to the top of a ridge 
where I could look down into a green valley, seeing 
here and there in the distance faint lines of smoke 
rising over the tops of the trees, and after a hot, 
rather difficult descent through the pines, just as 
Mr. Raydon must have come to our help that day, I 
reached the little camp, and was greeted by the men 
with a cheery shout. 

They had not seen a sign of danger, they said, and. 
as I looked round I saw no sitrn of the place havino- 
been disturbed. I heard too that the £Cold-washincr 
was going on very busily below, but no party had 
gone higher than they were. Barker having urged 
upon his fellow miners the necessity for keeping well 
together. 

After a rest and a mug of tea, which they soon 



516 TO THE WEST. 

had ready for me, two of them saw me up to the 
ridge above the valley, and gave me a hint or two 
about my way, with a warning to be careful ; and, 
full of confidence, I started forward on my return 

journey, 

I soon lost sight of the men and trudged on, 

keeping a sharp look out in the hope that I might 
see something in the form of game for a shot, and a 
change in the fare at the Fort, but the utter absence 
of animals was wonderful, and it was only at rare 
intervals that I heard the cry of a bird, or caught 
sight of a squirrel. 

I soon found that going back was not so easy, 
everything looking very different reversed, and con- 
sequently I went astray twice, and had to tramp 
back to the spot where I knew I had erred. Once I 
was brought up short by a terrible precipice ; a second 
time by a huge wall of rock, going up hundreds of 

fefit^ ample, proof thnt I was wrong. 

Returning to the starting place was best, and each 
time I soon realized where I had strayed from the 
right track, and went on afresh. 

But these wanderings took up time, and evening 
was setting in as I reached the great patch of wood 
where the trees were blazed, and under the shade of 
these great pines it was twilight at once, and soon 
after, to my dismay, I found that it was quite dark. 
Still I knew the direction in which I ought to go, 
and pressed on as fast as I could, trusting to get 
through the forest ; and then the four miles or so out 
in the open could soon be got over. So I thought, 
but if you try to realize my position it will be easy 
to understand how difficult it is to keep to a certain 



lost! 517 

direction, when one has constantly to turn to right 
or left to pass round some big tree. 

Not very difficult, you may say. Trees are not so 
big as that. But they are out there. Just picture to 
yourself one of our pines starting from the ground 

with a beautiful curve, before growing up straight as 
an arrow, and so far round that I have seen them, 

when lying on the ground felled by the axe, about 
ten feet up from the roots, where they would not be 
so big, with the butt where it was cut, ten feet across 
or thirty feet round, while, down at the level of the 
ground, it would be a long way on to double that 
thickness. 

To walk round such trees as that, and avoid the 
great roots, means taking a good many steps, and 
when this is done again and again, in a place where 
there is no beaten track, it is very easy to go astray. 

It was so with me in the daikness of that forest, 

i\j\c\ T bognn to repont bittovly now of my dotormma- 

tion, for I had volunteered to come, feeling positive 
of being able to find my way, while the more I tried 
to see, the more confused I grew ; till, hot, panting, 
and weary, I came to a dead stand. 

The silence was terrible, for there was not so much 
as a whisper in the tops of the pines. The darkness 
had increased so that I had to feel my way, and in a 
hopeless state of misery I leaned against a tree, 
fancying I heard steps ; then the heavy breathing of 
some huge beast ; and at last, asked myself if I was 
to wander about there till I fell down and died of 
exhaustion and want of food. 



CHAPTER XLTX. 



I Make a discovery. 




LL this was very ccwardly no doubt, bat 
circumstances alter cases, and it is only 
tbose who bave lost their way in some 
wild solitude who can realize the terrible 
feeling of bewilderment and dread which comes over 
liim who feels that he is lost where he may never 
find his way again, perhaps never be found. 

Fortunately these emotions come as a shock, and 
soon after there is a reaction. Hope revives as it did 
to me, and getting over the first horror and excite- 
ment, I stood leaning against the tree thinking out my 
position. I was lost, that was certain ; and if I went 
on stumbling about in the dark I might perhaps be 
going either farther away from my destination, or 
perhaps round and round in a great circle. Upon 
thinking it out coolly there were two coui'ses open : 
to lie down on a bed of pine-needles till daylight, or 
to try and get a glimpse of the stars through the 
trees, and guide myself by them. 

" If I stay," I thought, " I shall frighten Mrs. John 

horribly, and it will be very cowardly. As to being 
lost altogether, that's all nonsense ; Mr. Ray don and 



I MAKE A DISCOVERY. 519 

his men would soon find me or send Indians to hunt 
nie out. I'm going to find the way back.". 

I drew a long breath, closed my c^^es, and knelt 
down there in the utter darkness for a few minutes, 
to spring up again confident and refreshed to begin 
peering up through the trees for the stars. For I 
wanted to make out the Great Bear ; and I quite 
lau2:hed as I thousfht that it was the shininof one I 
sought, not a grizzly. If I could see that, I thought 
I could shape my course due south east. That must 
load mc out of the forest, when, even in the darkness, 
the rest was easy. 

It miglft hav'O been the most cloudy night ever 
seen, for the blackness above me was dense, the 
branches effectually shutting out every star, and I 
had to pause and wonder whether there was any 
other way by which I could steer my steps. But I 
could find no way out of my difficulty, and I was 
beginning to think that I should have to stay where 
I was and wait for day. 

But I could not do tliat. I tried sitting down for 
a short time, but the darkness and want of action 
became too oppressive, and leaping up I began to 
w^alk slowly and carefully on with my free hand 
extended to guide myself by the trunks of the trees, 
of whose proximity I was, however, generally made 
aware by my feet coming in contact wdth their 

roots. 

My progress was very slow, and so silent that I 

was able to listen intently for a signal, the hope 

having sprung up in my bieast that, as it had grown 

dark, Mr. Raydon might have sent Gray or one of 

the other men to meet mc, and in all probability 



520 TO THE WEST. 

they Avould fire guns to give me an idea of tlie 
direction I ought to take. 

I had read of such things, and felt that in all 
probability this was what Mr. Raydon would do. 
But time went on as I slowly crept along from tree 
to tree, cautiously picking my way, till I began to 
feel convinced that my chance of escaping this night 
was hopeless, and once more 1 stood gazing straight 
before me, till I fancied I saw a p^leam of lisfht close 
at hand. It was so strange and misty looking, that it 

was as if a bit of phosphorus had been rubbed upon 
the back of a tree. 

As I stared at it, the dim light died out, and all 
was so black once more that for the moment I 
thought it must have been fancy, but as I was 
coming to this conclusion, there it Avas again, and 
now fully convinced that it must be phosphorescent 
wood, I stepped forward cautiously to touch it, when 
it went out again. But I stretched out my hand, 
and leaning forward touched the trunk of a tree 
which grew luminous once more, till as 1 changed 
my position there it was out again. I repeated my 
movements, feeling puzzled at its coming and goir)g 
so strangely, and then like a flash of mental light 
the reason came to me, and I turned sharply round 
with my heart beating, to look for the gleam of which 
this must be the reflection. 

I was quite right, and I was ready to shout for 
joy, for there, glimmering among the trees, some 
distance from where I stood, I could see that there 
was the blaze of a small fire, which rose and fell, and 
flickered, sending flashes of light up among the 
branches overhead; and I knew at once that it must 



I MAKE A DISCOVERY. 521 

be the fire in connection ^\ith some camp, but 

whether Indian or English it was impossible to say. 
But that did not matter. The Indians all about 
were peaceable, and very friendly to the people of 
the Fort. They knew a few words of English too, 
so that with an intense feeling of relief, thinking: 
that I could at least get food and shelter, if I could 
not obtain a guide, I stepped out more freely, the 
light growing now, and enabling me to see dangers 
in my path in the shape of the thick growing 
trees. 

I was not long in finding out as I approached that 
the party around the fire were not Indians; and as I 
grew near enough to see the rough, ruddy faces of 
a party of men, I thought it would be better to 
announce my coming with a shout, lest my sudden 

appearance should be taken as that of an enemy. 
Somehow or other, though, I deferred this till I had 
made my way close up, when I heard a voice that 
sounded familiar say 

"Well, it's 'bout time we started. Be late enough 
when we get there. Wonder whether any one '11 be 
on the look out." 

As I heard these words, a cold perspiration broke 
out on my cheeks, and I felt as if something were 
Stirling the hair about my forehead, for I had just 
been walking into the lion s den ; and if I had had 
any hope that my ears were deceiving me, there, 
plainly enough, in the bright glow cast by the fire, 
stood the second of the two men we had encountered 
first in the steamer. 

It was he plainly enough, and he had one hand in 
a sling ; while, as I peered forward round one of the 



522 TO THE WEST. 

trees, I counted eight men about the fire ; and they 
all seemed to be well armed. 

Where were they going ? I asked myself. Along 
the track by which I had just come ? They must be, 
I thought, and bent on seizing Gunson's claim. They 
would surprise the four men ; and there would be 
blood shed, unless I could warn the poor fellows first. 

''I'll go back at once/' 1 thought; and then with 
a horrible sensation of depression, I realized that this 
was impossible, for I did not know in wliich direction 
to go. 

I had hardly thouglit this when I saw the whole 
party afoot, moving off in the direction away from 
me, and quickly making up my mind to follow them 
out of the forest, and as soon as I could make out my 
whereabouts, to get on somehow in front, and go on 
ahead, I followed them. It was no easy task, for I 
had to get some distance round, away from the fire, 
and I should have lost them if one of them had not 
laughed aloud at some remark. This told me of the 
direction in which they were, and I crept on in dread 

lest I should get too close and be seen, and again in 
dread for fear I should be left behind. 

To mj great satisfaction they kept on talking, as 
if in not the slightest fear of being overheard, and I 
followed as near as I dared go, till in a few minutes, 
to my great delight, I found that we were out in the 
open, and I could see the stars 

" Now," I thought, " whereabouts are we ? If I 
could only make out that large mass of rock that lay 
off to the left where I passed through the forest in 
the morning, I could soon get en before them. Why 
I must have walked right back, and — " 



I MAKE A DISCOVERT. 523 

I stopped short, quite startled, for to my great 
astonishment I found, instead of going in the direc- 
tion leading to Gunson's claim, I had come through 
the forest on the side I had been seeking for. 

"Then they are not going to Golden Valley," I 
said to myself; and then it came to me like a flash 
of light — they were going to attack the Fort ! 

Of course; and that was what was meant about 
any one being on the watch. 

My heart now beat violently, and I began to hasten 
my steps to get on before the party, and warn Mr. 
Raydon of their coming. But at the end of a minute 
I had to check my pace, and follow more cautiously, 
as I tried to think where I could get before them ; 
and the more I tried to think, the more confused and 
troubled I grew, for, as far as I could make out, there 
was no way but the track -which they seemed to 
know; and to have gone to right or left meant to 
encounter some place impossible to climb in the 
dark, or a precipice down which I might fall. It was 
difficult enough in broad daylight — impossible in the 
dark ; and in spite of all my thinking, I was at last 
despairingly compelled to confess that until the open 
ground was reached in front of the Fort, I could do 
nothing but follow while the enemy led. 

I thought of a dozen plans to warn the defenders 
of file Fort, so as to put them on tlie alert^ but the 

only one that seemed possible, was to wait till we 
were all pretty near, and then fire my rifle to give 
the alarm. 

That I knew meant making the ruffians turn on 
me, but though the risk was great, I hoped to dash 
by them in the darkness, and leach the gate. 



524 TO THE WEST. 

All this time I had been cautiously creeping along 
behind the gang, for at a word from their leader, the 
men had suddenly become very silent, and the only 
sound to be heard was the rattle of a stone kicked to 
one side, or a low whisper, evidently an oi'der about 
the advance. 

A curious feeling of despair was creeping over me, 
and I felt more and more convinced that I could not 
get to the front, so that all I should be able to do 
would be to wait till they were near the gate, and 
about to scale the palisade, for that was what I felt 
sure they meant to do, and then fire, let the result 
be what it might to me. 

My difficulties grew greater every minute, as we 
advanced, and the strain upon me heavier than I 
could bear. In anticipation I saw the scoundrels 
creeping up to the Fort, cautiously getting over and 
silencing whoever was on guard ; and then, with a 

feeling of horror thnt wng almosf unbearable^ T saw 

in imagination the whole place given up to pillage 
and destruction, at a time too when I knew that 
there were many bales of valuable furs in the stores. 
My progress at last becama like a nightmare, in 
which I was following the attacking party, and 
unable to do anything to help my friends ; so that 
when we were within, as a German would say, half 
an hour of our destination, I was in no wise startled 

or surprised to faintly make out in the darkness the 
figures of two men who suddenly rose up on either 
side of me ; a hand was clapped over my mouth, and 
I was dragged down, and a knee placed on my chest. 
I divined it all in an instant, and tried to resign 
myself to my fate, as I saw that, being well on their 



I MAKE A DISCOVERY. 525 

guard against surprise, two of the gang had fallen 
back and seen me, with the result I have described, 
so that I was absolutely stunned after a feeble 
struggle, when a voice at my ear said in a harsh 
whisper — 

'*What is the meaning of this treachery, Gordon? 
Who are those men ? " 

My hand caught the speaker's, and I uttered a 

low sob of relief. 

" Mr. E-aydon — the men — going to attack the 
Fort." 

" Ah ! " he panted. *' You hear, Gray ? " 

" Yes." 

*' But why did you not warn us ? " 

" They were before me. I could not get by," I 
whispered. *' I was going to fire to alarm you all." 

I heard Mr. Raydon draw a low hissing breath. 

" How did you know this ? " he said. 

*' Lost my way in the forest, and saw the light of 
their fire." 

" And the men at the claim ? " 

" All right, sir. — I heard these wretches say they 
were coming on." 

" Lost, eh ? " said Mr. Raydon. 

" Yes, sir. I've been wandering for hours." 

*' We were in search of you, and drew back to let 
these men go by. You hear his story, Gray ? " 

"Yes, sir. Quite right. He would lose his way 
in the dark. What orders ? 

" His plan will be the best," said Mr. Raydon. 
" Gordon, finding you in sucJi company made me 
suspicious." 

" You always do suspect me, sir," I said, bitterly. 



J9 



526 TO THE WEST. 

" Silence, and come along. Gray, I shall wait till 
they are close up, and about to make their attempt ; 
then at the word, fire and load again. They will be 
taken by surprise, and think they are between t\N0 
parties. The surprise may be sufficient. If not it 
will alarm those within/* 

"And then?" 

" Be ready to fire again, or make for the far side. 
We must o'et in there. Forward ! I'll lead." 

Mr. Raydon went on first and I followed, Gray 

bringing up the rear, I was hurt, for it was evident 
that Mr. Raydon's ideas of my character were poor 
indeed, and that at the slightest tiling he was ready 
to suspect mo of any enormity. But as I paced on 
quickly behind him I grew more lenient in my 
judgment, for I was obliged to own that my position 
was not a satisfactory one. I had not returned as I 
should have done, and when ] was found, it was in 
comp'^uy with a g^^g (^^ men who were about to 
attack and pillage the Fort. 

I had no farther time for thoughts like these. We 
were gaining rapidly on the gang now, and in a few 
minutes' time we could hear footsteps, and then they 
had suddenly ceased, and a whispering began, as if 
the leader of the paity were giving orders. 

Mr. Raydon touched mo to make out that I was 
close up, and I felt Gray take his position on the 
other side, while my heart beat so loudly that I half 
thought it might be heard. 

All at once Mr. Raydon pressed on my shoulder, 
and leaned over me to whisper to Gray. 

"They ought to have heard this approach," he 
whispered. " This is not keeping good watch." 



I MAKE A DISCOVERY. 527 

" Dark — very quiet/' said Gray, in wliat sounded 
to me like a remonstrant tone ; and directly after a 
loud clear voice rang out from the block house at the 
left hand corner near the iiate. 

" Who goes there ? Halt, or I fire/' 

A low murmur arose in trout of us, and Mr. Raydon 
drew a deep breath, as if relieved. Then there was 
a quick advance, the Hash of a lide, and the sharp 
clear leport. 

" Only one," cried a hoarse voice. " Too dark to 
see. Over with you, boys . " 

Bang ! Anothei shot ; and then, as I panted witli 
excitement, Mr. Raydon whispered 

" Now, altogether, iiro ! " 

I had raised my piece at his warning, and drew 
the trigger; but though there was a sharp repoit 
on either side of mo, my piece did not speak, and 
suddenly recollecting tliat I had forgotten to cock it, 
I lowered it again. 

" Who's that behind ? Who fired there ? " cried tlic 
hoarse voice of the leader from the darkness ahead. 

It was just as I was ready, and raising my piece, 

I fired, the butt seeming to gi\ e my shoulder a heavy 

blow ; while directly alter came three flashes from 

the block house, as m<my roars, and, like their echoes, 

Mr. Raydon and Gray fired again, after a rapid 
reloading. 

This was too much for the attacking party. They 
were so thoroughly taken between two fires, that the 
next thing we heard was the hurried rush of feet, 
and I saw very faintly what appeared to be a shadow 
hurry by me, while a couple more shots from Mr. 
Raydon and Gray completed the enemy's lOut. 



528 TO THE WEST. 

" Cease firing, there ! " roared Mr. Raydon. 

A loud hail came back from the block house, and 

a few minutes later we were being admitted through 
the well barred gate, whose fastenings dropped with 
a loud clang. Then I walked up to the quarters 
with Mr. Raydon, where the next thing I heard was 
Mr. John's voice. 

'' Found him ? " 

"Yes; all right, and the enemy beaten/' said Mr. 
Raydon, cheerily. " Go and tell them inside." 

" No need," said Mr, John ; '' they have heard. 
Where are you, Mayne ? Ah, that's better. Why, 
my dear lad, you have scared us terribly." 

" I lost my way," I said, hastily. 

" But what was the meaning of this firing ? " 

" The enemy coming in force," said Mr. Raydon. 
^' We have beaten them off though without blood- 
shed, and Mayne Gordon licie has had another lesson 

in the dangers of opening np gold-claima to thft scum 

of the earth." 

'* That you, Mayne Gordon ? " said a familiar voice 
soon after, as I approached our quarters. 

^' Yes," I said. " Not hurt, are you, Esau ? " 

" Not a bit ; nor you neither ? '* 

" Yes," I said, bitterly ; *' wounded again." 

" Eh ? whereabouts ? Here, come on. Mother's 
got lots of rag." 

" No, no," I said, laughing sadly. " Not that sort 
of wound. It was with words." 

'* Go on with you. Frightening a chap like that," 
cried Esau. " I thought it was real." 



CHAPTER L. 




OUR PATIENT AWAKES. 

HERE was no alarm next day, and scouts 

who were sent out came back to report 

that they had tracked the enemy down 

the river, and then up into the forest by 

one of the side streams, the second beyond the 
Golden Valley. 

"Humph I" ejacuhited Mi, Raydon, "pleasant 
that, John. Tliey have taken to the lovely wooded 
vale I had marked down in my own mind for your 
future home." 

Mr. John shrugged his shoulders, and gave his wife 
and brother in law a half sad, half laucrhing look. 

" I am not surprised," he said, " I always was the 
most unlucky of men." 

'' Nothing of the kind, sir," retorted Mr. Raydon. 
'* You have had as much good fortune as other men 
quite as much as I liave. My dear John,'' he added 
more gently, '' we men have a bad habit of forgetting 
the good in our lives, and remembering all the bad. 
My dear fellow, half your troubles have been caused 
by your want of energy." 

L L 



530 TO THE WEST. 

" Yes," he said, smiling sadly, " I suppose so. I 
have always been too ready to give up. But," he 
added quickly, " I never complain." 

Mr. Kaydon never looked so pleasant in my eyes 
befoie as he smiled at his sister, and then laid his 
hand on Mr. John's shoulder. 

" Never, John, never. You annoy me sometimes 
by being so easy and yielding." 

"Yes, yes," said Mr. John; "but I'm going to 
turn over a new leaf, and be gtern and energetic as 
you are." 

Mrs. John crossed to him and took his hand. 

" No," she said quietly, " you are going to turn 
over no new leaves, dear. You are best as you 
always have been. Daniel is wrong ; we cannot 
have all men of the same mould." 

'* Do you hear all this, Mayne Gordon ?" said Mr. 
Raydon, laughingly ; and before I could reply, he 
said quickly, " Gro on now, and take your turn as 
sentry ; I want to think out my plans. Don't talk 
abont it to the men, but something must be done. 
A combination must be made to capture these men 
again, for we shall have no peace or safety till they 
are cleared away." 

What are you thinking of doing ? " said Mrs. 
John, taking alarm at his words. 

" Trying to end the matter peaceably, and without 

bloodshed." 

Mrs. John uttered a sigh of relief, and I went out 
wondering what would be done, and thinking that if 
I had my way, I should collect all the miners, join 
forces, and then send one party to the head of the 
little vale, and attempt to advance with the others 



« 



C( 



OUK PATIKNT AWAKES. 531 

f om the bottom by the river, little thinking what 
difficulties tliere would be in such a plan. 

As soon as I was outside Mr. Raydon*s office, I met 
Gray, who gave me a grim, dry look. 

Know how many men you shot last night ? " he 
said. 

I looked at him in horror. 

"Don't — don't say " I faltered. 

"All right!" he replied; ''but if you're going to 
carry a I'ifle, and you use it, you must expect to 
knock some of the enemy over. There, I was only 
joking you, soldier. I don't think anybody was 
even scratched by a ball. If you're going to stop 
with us, I shall have to make a marksman of 
you, so that you can do as I do — give a man a 
lesson." 

" In shooting ? " I said. 

He laughed. 

^es, but yon don't nTu]pr=;fnnd mo T mean give 

him such a lesson as Avill make him behave better. 
'Tisn't pleasant, when you havs grown cool after a 
fight, to think you have dangerously -wounded or 
killed a man ; not even if he tried to kill you. I felt 

that years ago, and I practised up, so that I can hit 
a man with a rifle just where I like— that is nearly 
always. 

" It was you who fired at those two wretches then ?" 
I said eagerly. 

" Of course it was, and I hit one in the leg, and 
the other in the hand. Did nearly as well as killing 
'em, eh ? " 

" Yes," I said, laughing. " I must practise too." 

" You shall, and I hope you'll have no need to 



<( 



)} 



JJ 



532 TO THE WEST. 

use your rifle afterwards, except on bears or deer. 
Where are you going ? 

" Mr. Raydon said I was to relieve one of the 
naen." 

" So you shall, but the first one's got an hour yet 
to be on duty. I'll call you when you're wanted. 
How's Mr. Gunson ?" 

'* Tm just going to see," I said ; and I went up to 
the strangers' quarters and looked in, to find Mrs. 
Dean on duty by the bedside, and Esau seated by 
the fire, cutting out something which he informed 
me was part of a trap he had invented to catch 
squirrels. 

'' How is he ? " I said in a low voice to Mrs. 
Dean. 



'i. j> 



" Very bad, my dear, and so weak." 

" But hasn't he shown any sign of recovering his 

senses ? " 

" No my dear • and it does .^f^em so dificourao-ino-/' 

"Never mind, mother; you'll cure liim." 

^^Hist." I sail. 

*' Weil, r am whispoiiiig, aint T," said Esau. "He 
couldn't hear if I didn't 

" But he must be kept quiet, Esau, and you have 
such a big voice. Your Avhispers are as loud as 
some people's shouts.'' 

"Hush !" I said, as I heard steps. " Mr. Raydon." 

Mrs. Dean rose and curtseyed as Mr. Raydon 
entered, followed by l^lr. and Mrs. John ; and he 
looked surprised on seeing me there. 

'* Not on duty, Gordon ? " he said. 

"Mr. Gray told me to wait till he was ready for 
me, sir." 



OUR PATIENT AWAKES. 533 

"Oh ! Well, Mrs. Dean, how is your patient ? " 

" Seems to sleep very cabnly and gently, sir. I 
did think he looked at n^e sensibly once, but Vm not 
sure." 

" Poor fellow ! " said Mr. Raydon gravely, as Mrs. 
Dean left the place, followed by Esau, while I felt 
as if I should like to follow them ; but I stayed, 
knowing that if I did go, Mr. Raydon would think I 
felt guilty at being found th^re, when I was only 
obeying his officer's orders. So I remained watching, 
and waiting to be called. 

Mr. Raydon bent over the couch, and laid his hand 
upon his patient's head. 

" Nice and cool. He must be mending, and sooner 
or later I believe he will recover. It is time, though, 
that he made some sign of returning consciousness. 
Ah, Mayne, my lad, this is the thirst for gold with 
a vengeance. I dreaded it; [ have dieaded it for 
years. Poor fellow ! A thorough gentleman at heart, 
but his desire for wealth was his ruin." 

The words leaped to my lips, but I felt that all 
Mr. Gunson had told me of his foimer life was in 

confidence; and beside, Mr. Raydon's treatment did 
not encourac^e mine, so I was silent for a moment 
01 so, gazing sadly at the thin worn face before me, 
and wishing that I "was a clev^er doctor and able to 

cure him^ wlien T started with surprise and pleasure, 
for Mr. Gunson's eyes opened, and he lay looking 
fixedly at me for some time in the midst of a painful 
silence. 

Then a look of recognition came into his gaze, and 
he smiled at me faintly. 

"Tmie to get up ?" he said, in a whisper. "I — '* 



5:34 TO THE WEST. 

He looked quickly round then, and his face worked 
n little. 

"Where am I? what?'' he faltered. "Maync, 
where am I? Ah ! I remember now," he said, faintly. 

Mr. Raydon bent over him. 

*' Don't try to talk, Gunson. You have been ill, 
but you are getting better now." 

"Yes," he said, softly; "I remember. Struck 
down just now.'' 

I exchanged glances with Mr. Raydon. 

"No, not just now, because I have been lying 
here. Some one nursing me — yes," he cried, with 
more energy, as his eyes lested on Mrs. John's sympa 
thetic face, " you," 

"We have all nuiscd you," said Mrs, John, quietly. 
"But do not try to talk." 

" No," he saidj decisively , " but there is one 

thing must say — my claim the gold." 

I saw Mr. Ray Ion's f'^ce puckor np^ and a frown 

gather on his brow, but it cleared away directly, an 1 

he bent down over his patient, and laid his hand 

upon his forehead. 

"Gunson, you must be quiet," he said. "Your 
claim is quite safe. I have men protecting it, and 
no gold has been found or takan away," 

"Thank heaven." sighed Gunson; and giving a 
grateful look round he closed his eyes, and seemed 
to go to sleep. 

" Come away now," whispered Mr. Raydon. " You 

•will stay with him ? " 

Mrs. John bowled her head, and softly took the 
chair by the pillow, while we all stole gently out of 
the room. 



OUR PATIENT AWAKES. 535 

"His first waking thought, John," said Mr. Ray- 
don, bitterly; ''gold — gold — gold. There, it is of no 
use to mnrmur: I must swallow my pet antipathy, 
I suppose." 

Once more the thought of all Mr, Gunson had said 
to me came as words to my lips ; but though my 
friend was being wrongly judged, I felt that I could 
not speak. 

*' Some day he will know all the truth," I said, 
" and I must wait." 

Just then Gray came up. 

"Your time, Gordon/' he said, abruptly. Then 
seeing our excited looks, he glanced towards the 
strangers' quarters. 

"Not worse, sir?" he said, eagerly. 

"No, Gray; the turn has come — better," said Mr. 
Ray don. 

Gray took off his fur cap, waved it in the air, and 
then with a satisfied smile he marched me off. 

" That's what I like to hear ; hell be all right 
soon now. This place would set any man up. But 
I can't understand the gov'nor. He was always mad 
against any one coming about here hunting for gold, 
and yet somehow he seems to have quite taken to 
your friend, who talks about nothing else; 

''Yes," I said; "I can't help thinking that he 
likes Mr. Gunson." 

'' Oh, there's no doubt about it, my lad. We 
shall have him taking to gold hunting himself one 
of these days." 

" Never," I said, decisively, as we reached my post. 

" Never's a long day, boy," said Gray, thoughtfully ; 



}> 



" but I think you're right. 



» 



CHAPTER LI. 



ON ACTIVr SERVICE. 




HE scouts went out again and again, and 
though they never saw the enemy, they 
always brought back reports that they 
were still in the little valley, and trying 

for gold there. 

Mr. Barker had been up to the Fort with some 
of the principal gold-soekers, and Mr. Raydon had 
been down to the valley, which had rapidly grown 
into a busy hive. But days ghded by and no plans 
were made, while the enemy made not the slightest 
sign of their presence ; and Mr. Raydon said it was 
a mystery to him how they obtained provisions. 

Then, as no more attacks v;ere made at the camp, 
the excitement gradually cooled down, and it Avas 
decided to leave the men alone so long as they re- 
mained peaceable, or until such time as the Governor 
of the colony was in a position to send up a little 
force to protect people, and ensure peace in his 

increasing settlement. 

The days glided on and Mr. Gunson rapidly began 
to mend, while I spent all the time I could at his 
side — Mr. Raydon quietly letting me see that I was 



ON ACTIVE SERVICE. 537 

only a visitor there, the companion of the sick man; 
and it was regularly settled that as soon as Mr, Gunson 
was quite well again he was to return to his claim, 
and I was to go with him ; Esau also having, after 
quite a verbal battle with his mother, determined to 
cast m his lot with ours. 

" And I shall be very glad to get away from this 
life of inaction," Gunson said to me one day. "They 
are all wonderfully kind, and I am most grateful, 
but I think Raydon will be pleased to see us gone." 

" Yes," I said ; " I shall be glad to go." 

"You mean it, boy?" he said, smiling. 

"Yes; there is nothing I am wanted for, and I 
feel as if I were an intruder. It was an unlucky 
day when we found that gold." 

"No," cried Mr. Gunson, with fierce energy; "a 

most fortunate day. You forget what it is going to 
do for me and mine." 

"Yes; I spoke selfishly," I said, bitterly. 

*'Bah! don't look back, boy; look forward," he 
cried ; and he suddenly became silent, and leaned 
back in his chair, gazing out through the open 
window at the wide prospect of hill, mountain, and 
dark «;reen forest. '^I am lookin^c forward to beingc 
out again in those glorious pine-woods, breathing the 
sweet mountain air. I shall soon be quite strong 

acrain then." 

I thought of my own wound, and how I had 
seemed to drink in health and strength as soon as 
I got out. 

" It would not be a bad life to settle down here," 
continued Mr. Gunsou ; " I should enjoy it. A 
beautiful life, far better than hunting for gold. But 



538 TO THE WEST. 

what about those scoundrels who made me like this ? 
Is there any fresh news o^ them ? " 

" None," I said. 

"That's bad. They may be in mischief. Awk- 
ward if they come and attack us again when we get 
back to the claim. Raydon must lend us some of 

his men, or else I must join forces with that Barker, 
though I would far rather keep the place to myself. 
But we cannot risk another such attack. You see 
what a coward weakness has made me." 

" You a coward 1 " I cried, scornfully. 

"Yes, my lad," he said, with a smile. "I do not 
feel a bit like a brave man should. Weil," he cried, 
with a laus^h, "that is strange ! " 



"What fs?" I cried. 



" Look," he said, pointing out of the window to a 
group of men coming in at the gate ; " the very man 
I was speaking about — Barker " 

''There's somethirig -wrong/' I said, ei^citedly, as I 
sprang from my chair. 

"Go and see," he cried ; but I was already at the 
door, and rushed out just as Mr. Raydon and Mr. 
John came from the office, and Gray from one of the 
block-houses. 

" How are you ? " said Barker, coming up with a 
serious look on his face that told of bad news before 

he spoke. 

Mr. Raydou took the extended hand. 

"Well," he said, "what is it? That gang 



again 



?" 



*^Yes," said Barker, rather huskily; "we were in 
hopes that we had seen the last of them, but they 
made an attack last night. We did not know till 



ON ACTIVE SERVICE, 539 

quite late this morning, when a man from the next 
claim went down to the bar nearest the big river." 

" Yes, go on quick ^ " said Mr. Raydon. 

" Tiiey had been there feome time in the night. 
There was a party of six woiking together, and I 
suppose tliey sui prised them." 

" Well ? " 

" Two of the poor fellows are lying dead, sir, and 
the other four badly wounded. They have swept 
the place of everything, and got a good deal of gold." 

As this bad news was tohl I could not look at 
Mr. Raydon, for fear his eyes should gaze ie2:)roach 
fully into mine. I felt that he did glance at me as 
if to say — " Your work, Gordon ! " 

But at that moment the visitor went on speaking- 

" Tve come up, sir, Avith my mates, as we agreed 

to help one another. We are peaceable people, and 
we only ask to be let alone ; but after last night's 
work it must be war. Tlds can't go on." 

"No," said Mr. Raydon^ hnnly. 

"We're right aAvay here from any settlement, and 
there might be no law at all for any help it can 
give us, so we must be our own judges and jury/' 

"No," said Mr. Raydon, firmly; "not that, but 
we must be our own soldiers and police/' 

" Then you will act with us, sir ? You and your 

people know the conntry^ nnd pprhnps can lead us 

to where we can find and suiprise them." 

"If you all give me your undertaking that there 

shall be no unnecessary bloodshed, and that these 

men shall be merely seized and taken down to the 

coast, I will help you io the best of my power." 

" Here's my hand upon it," cried Barker. " You're 



JJ 



JJ 



540 TO THE WEST. 

more of a soldier than I am, so tell us Avhat to do, 
and the sooner it's done the better." 

"Go back then at once, and get all your men 
together, and I will join you with all I can spare 
from the protection of my place. 

"How long will you be, sir? 

"Half an hour after you get back. But be quiet, 
and do not let a hint reach the enemy of what is 
afoot." 

" You may trust us, sir," said Barker. " Come 
on back, lads ; " and all looking very stern and serious, 
the men turned and went steadily off. 

"You'll take me, sir V said Gray, appealingly. 

"I wish I could, my man," replied Mr. Raydon. 
" One of us must stay to take charge here, and my 
place is with the men to guard against excesses." 

Gray looked disappointed, but he was soldier-like 
in his obedience to orders, and without another word 

he went" with US to the hloi^k hotme^ wliere four inen 

were selected and duly armed. 

All at once Mr. Raydon turned, and iound me 
gazing intently at him, 

"Well?" he said. 

" You will let me go too, sir ? " I said, 

" No ; you are too young to light. Yes ; you shall 
carry an extra rifle for me, and my surgical case." 

I ran back to where Gunson lay impatiently 
waiting for news, and told him. 

"Yes," he said, "it is quite right. This must be 
put down with a strong hand. Oh, if I had only 
strength to be one of the party ! Mayne Gordon, I 
envy you." 

Ten minutes later I was saying good bye to Mrs. 



ON ACTIVE SERVICE. 541 

John, who looked pale and horrified at the news she 
had heard, and began to object to my going, till Mr. 
John whispered a few words to her, wi.en she turned 
upon me a piteous look. 

" I am only going as the doctor's assistant,'* I said, 
lightly, but I felt as excited as if I were about to 
form one of a forlorn hope. 

" Ready ? " said Mr. Raydon, coming to the door. 

" Get to the men, Gordon. Good bye, sister." 

**But, Danie] !" she said, clinging to him ; "is this 
necessary ?" 

"Absolutely," he replied. ** John, I look to you 
to shoulder a rifle, and help to defend this place. 
Good bye." 

He shook hands hastily to avoid a painful parting, 
and strode out witli me, so that I only had time to 
wave my hand to Mrs. John, who Avas watching us 
as we tramped out of the gate — the five men by 
me lookincr stern and determined enough to be more 

than a match for the enemy, if it was a case of fair 
fighting, though that was too much to expect from 
such men as these. 

Hardly a word was spoken as we descended the 
valley, keeping close down to the river-side, till we 
reached the narrow entrance to the little gorge, 
whose stream came bubbling and plashing down 
into the pool, and we had not gone above a couple 
of hundred yards up it, when a stern voice bade us 
stand, and we found ourselves face to face with the 
whole strength of the mining camp. 

" That's right, sir," said Baiker ; " ready for action. 
Yes ? Then what's it to be ? " 

" My plan is^ very simple," replied Mr. Raydon. 



542 TO THE WEST. 

"I propose going up the valley with my men to 
Gunson's claim, whore I shall, of course, join the four 
stationed there." 

" That's right/' said Barker. " We asked them to 
come with us, but they refused. Well, sir ? " 

" You and your men will march down to the river, 
and descend tdl you are opposite the little vale where 
these people are hiding. You wull find it very 
beautiful and park like for the first half mile, but as 
the glade narrows it grows more dense, till it is filled 
from side to side with magnificent pines. You will 
spread your men out, to guard agaiust the enemy 
passing you, and this will grow more and more easy 
as you go slowly on. 

" I \inderstand ; and what are you going to do, 
sir?" said the man. 

"" Come over the ridge, and through the forest 
which separates this valley fiom that, so as to get 
to the head of the little stream. Thou we shall 
begin to descend, and, I hope, drive the scoundrels 
infco your hands." 

Barker gave his lifle stock a hearty slap. 

"Capital!" he ciiod. *'And you can get over 

there ? " 

"I know every part here for miles round," said 
Mr. RaydoD, as I felt quite startled at his plan being 

pxnrtly the sn me as the one I had thinght of "T 

will £fet over there somehow. 



») 



'*Then we shall have them between tw^o fires, sir," 



cried Barker — ^" good ! 



! > 



We paited directly after thi^, it being understood 
that the miners were to move slowly, so as to give 
us ample time to make our arrangements, get round 



ON ACTIVE SERVICE. 543 

over the mountain-ridge, and go down to meet them 
so as to have the enemy safely between us, Mr. Raydon 
being of opinion that the sides of the valley in which 
they were encamped would be too steep to give them 
a chance of escape. 

We pressed on past the various little claims, with 
the place looking untidy and desolate, consequent 
upon the number of camping-places all along the 
beautiful stream ; and whenever we came upon the 
more desolate places, with the traces of fire and 
burned trees, I saw Mr. Raydon's brow knit, and 
more than once he uttered an angry ejaculation. 

Gunson's claim was neared at last, just as I was 
besfinnino: to feel exhausted with the difficulties of 
the climb up the rugged rock strewn track, and Mr. 
Raydon was looking more severe than ever, when 
all at once, from out of the trees there rang out 
a sharp " Halt ! " and there was the clicking of a 

rifle lock 

" Hah ! " ejaculated Mr. Raydon, brightening up 
at once at this display of watchfulness, which proved 
to him how trustworthy his men were. Then step- 
ping to the front he shouted a few words, and the 
man who had spoken came from his post, which 
commanded an approach to the claim. 

We were met with an eager welcome, and in spite 
of the risks they would have to encounter, the four 
men were overjoyed at hearing of the business in 
hand, clearly showing that they were tired of their 
monotonous inactive life. 

A brief halt was made, during which our party 
lay about making a good meal ; and then, at a word 
from Mr. Raydon, they all sprang up together quite 



544 TO THE WEST. 

in military fashion, while he explained to the four 
men the plan. 

" We must try and get over here at once/* he 
said, as he glanced up at the tremendous wall of 
rock, piled up quite a thousand feet above our heads, 
and dotted with patches of trees, wherever there was 
soil or crevice in which a pine could take root. 

"Better place higher up, sir,'' said one of the men. 
" There's a little branch of the stream goes off west : 
I followed it the other day after a sheep. I think 
we could get far enough up the mountain then to 
cross over and strike the other stream." 

"Right," said Mr. Raydon at once; ''that will be 
better. All ready ? Ammunition ? " 

" Ready ! ready ! " rang along the little line. 

Mr. Raydon nodded. 

" No talking, and go as silently as you can ; sound 
travels in these high parts, and we do not know how 

high up the sronndrels may he camping Now^ 

understand once more — single file till we cross over 
into the other valley, then spread out as widely as 
the place will allo^v, and keep as level a line as 
possible. The object is to drive these men back to 
the mining party, and not one must break through 
our line now. You lead, I trust to you to get us 
well over into that valley." 

The man who had spoken of the branch from the 
stream stepped to the front, rifles were shouldered, 
the word was given, and with Mr. Raydon next to 
the leader, and I behind him, carrying a spare rifle 
and the sur<j;ical case, the advauce was begun. 



CHAPTER LIT. 



A NEW ENEMY. 




E had not lost more than a quarter of an 
hour in this halt; but it was sufficient, 
as I found when [ rose, to have cooled 
me down and made me feel fresh and 
ready for the arduous climb that we now had to make. 
Our path was along by the stream for a time, but 
more often right in it, for the valley grew narrower, 
and was fret^uently little more than a gigantic crack 
in the mountain side; but so beautiful that I often 
longed to stop and gaze at the overhanging ferns 
and velvety moss by some foaming fall, where the 
water came down from above like so much fine misty 

rain. 

But there was no halting, and we kept on till the 
leader suddenly turned into a gloomy niche on our 
left, out of which another stream rushed ; and here 
for some time we had to climb from rock to rock, 
and often drag ourselves on to some shelf by the 
overhanging roots of trees. The ascent was wonder- 
fully steep, and sometimes so narrow that we were 
in a dim twilight with the sky far away above us, 
like a jagged line of light. As for the stream in 

M M 



546 TO THE WEST. 

whose bed we were, it was a succession of tiny falls 
now, and we were soon dripping from the waist 
downward . 

But no word was spoken, and the men worked 
together as if trained by long service to this kind 
of travelling. When some awkward rock had been 
climbed by the leader, he stopped and held down 
his hand to Mr. Raydon, who sprang up and offered 
me the same assistance, while I, taking it as the 
proper thing to do, held my hand down to the next. 

For full two hours we struggled up this narrow 
rift before it became less deep, and the light nearer. 
Then the climbing was less difficult, and drier, and 
I could see that we were getting up more on to the 
open mountain-side, amid the bare rocks and piled- 
up stones. All at once the leader stopped short, and 
pointed up to where, quite half a mile away, I could 
see about a dozen sheep standing clearly defined 
against the sky, their heads with the great curled 
horns plainly visible. Some were feeding, but two 
stood above the rest as if on guard. 

Mr. Raydon nodded, and the man said 

"I lost sight of my sheep just below where you 
see those, sir, and I think if we keep on along for 
a, mile beyond we shall find the stream we want 
running down into the other valley." 

Mr. Raydon stood shading his eyes for a few 

minutes. 

'' Yes," he said, at last. " You are quite right. I 
can see the mountain I have been on before. 
Forward ! " 

The way was less arduous now, and the fresh 
breeze into which we had climbed made it cooler : 



A NEW ENEMY. 547 

but still it was laborious enough to make me pant 
as I followed right in Mr. Raydon's steps. Before 
we had gone on much further I saw the sheep take 
alarm, and go bounding up, diagonally, what looked 
like a vast wall of rock, and disappear; and when 
we had climbed just below where I had seen them 
bound, it seemed impossible that they could have 
found footing there. 

Another half-hour's toilsome ascent, for the most 
part among loose stones, and we stood gazing down 
into a narrow gully similar to that up which we had 
climbed, and at the bottom I saw a little rushing 
stream, which Mr. Raydon said was the one we 
soucrht, and I knew that we had but to follow that 
to where it joined the big river, after a journey 
through the dense mass of forest with which the 

valley was filled. 

Here we halted for a few minutes in a stony 
solitude, where there was not the faintest sound to 
be heard ; and then Mr. Raydon's deep voice 
whispered " Forward ! " and we began to descend 
cautiously, for the way down to the stream was so 
perilous that it was only by using the greatest care 
that we reached the bottom in safety, and began to 
follow the torrent downward. 

" No chance for them to escape by us this way," 
said Mr. Raydon to me with a grim smile, looking 
back as we descended the chasm in single file, 
gradually going as it were into twilight, and then 
almost into darkness, with perpendicular walls of 
rock on either hand, and the moist air filled with 
the echoino: roar and rush of water. 

Here Mr. Raydon took the lead, the mnn w^ho 



548 TO THE WEST. 

had been in advance letting us both pass him, and 
then following behind me. 

" I have been up this stream to this point before," 
said Mr. Raydon to me. " You never thought to 
see such places as this, Gordon," he continued, 
" when you left London/' 

'* No," I said eagerly, for it was pleasant to hear 
him make some advances towards me ; but he said 
no more, relapsing into complete silence as he strode 
on or leaped from rock to rock, till by degrees, and 
repeating our morning s experience in the reverse 
way, we began to find the narrow gorge widen and 
grow less dark ; then we came to places where the 
sunshine gleamed down, and there were ferns; then 
lower down to more light, and where bushes were 
plentiful, but still with the valley so narrow that we 
had to keep in single file. 

At last, the perpendicular walls were further back, 
the valley grew V shaped, and patches of dwarf 
forest grew visible high up. Bigger trees appeared, 
and soon after the place became park-like, and a 
man stepped out to right and left, so that in front 
we were three abreast ; and half an hour later we 
were amongst the thickly-growing pines — a line of 
eight men abreast with Mr. Raydon in the middle, 
and I and the other behind. 

" Halt I " said Mr. Raydon, in a whisper. " Join 

It 
up. 

The men from right and left drew in, and he 
said in quite a whisper 

" The forest grows more and more dense here for 
miles away to the river. I propose now going on 
for another half hour, to where there is a sudden 



A NEW ENEMY. 540 

narrowing in of the valley to about thirty yards. If 
we do not meet the enemy before this, I shall halt 
there, and keep that pass, waiting till they are driven 
up to us. But we may have them upon us at any 
moment now." 

" They could not have got by us, sir ? " I ventured 
to say. 

Mr. Raydon looked at me, and smiled. 

" Impossible, my lad. Ready ? Forward ! " 

Our advance now was slow, as we had to pass in 
and out among the thickly-growing- trees, and to be 
careful to keep in line as nearly as was possible. 
Every man was eager and excited, and from time to 
time, as I looked to right and left, I kept catching 
sight of one of our party pressing forward with rifle 
ready, and waiting to fire at the first sight of the 
enemy, this shot being the appointed signal for all 
to halt and stand fast, waiting for further orders. 

At last, after what in my excited state seemed to 

be hours, but which afterwards proved not to have 
been one, Mr. Raydon said in a whisper — 

''There is the gate." 

I stared, but could see nothing till we had gone a 
few yards further, when I found that two huge 
shoulders of the mountain had fallen in, and blocked 
the valley, which was narrowed here, as Mr. Raydon 
said, to a sharply-cut passage of about thirty yards 
wide. Here we halted, and were disposed so that a 
dog could not pass through without being seen, and 
for a full hour we remained in utter silence, watch- 
ing, till, unable to bear the inaction any longer, Mr. 
Raydon said sharply — 

" Forward ! Open out 1 I am afraid there is 



550 TO THE WEST. 

something wrong below. They ought to have been 
up here by this time." 

We tramped on again now, still with the same 
precautions, but making as much speed as we could 
after our rest, though our pace was slow on account 
of the dense nature of the forest. I cannot tell how 
long we had been going downward, but suddenly, 
just as I was growing weary of the whole business, 
and thinking that the men were after all, perhaps, 
not here, or that we had come down the wronij 
valley, my blood rose to fever-heat again, for Mr. 
Eaydon whispered 

"Halt!" and the word ran along to right and 
left. "Be ready," he whispered again. And now I 
heard a faint muttering in front of us, similar to 
that ^^hich we had made in our progress; and at last, 
away among the great tree-trunks dimly seen in tlic 
shade, I caught sight of a man, then of anothoi 
and another, and now Air. Raydon's voice rang out 

hoarsely' 

*' Halt, or Ave fire ! " 

There was a low murmuring from before us, and 
a bit of a rush, as of men collecting together, and 
then a voice roared from among the trees 

" Surrender there, or we will shoot you down to a 

man." 

" Do you hear ? " cried Mr. Raydon. " Surrender ! 



The game's up, you scoundrels." 

*'Mr. Raydon," I whispered, excitedly, for I had 

caught sight of the advancing party, "don't fire; 

it's I\Ir. Barker and his men." 

" What ? Hi ! Baikcr ! Is that you ? " 

" Ay — ax ! " came back. " That you, Mr. Raydon ? " 



A NEW ENEMY, 551 

" Ye;5, man, yes ; where are the enemy ? " 

"Why, I thought you was them/' cried Barker, 
advancing. 

'* We thought the same/' said Mr. Raydon, as he 
too stepped forward, and wo all stood face to face. 
"Then they were not here. Or have you passed 
them ? " 

" I don't think — " began Barker. 

"Why, I told you so," ciied one of the men. 
" I felt sure I heard something out to our left among 
the trees hours ago." 

" What ? " cried Mr, Eaydon ; " did you not open 
out your men in hne ? " 

" Far as we could," said Barker, gruffly. " It's so 
thick down below we couldn't get along." 

" Man ! " cried Mr. Raydon, " they've been too 

sharp for you, and let you pass. Why oh, good 

heavens ! they must have known of our plans. 
They'll have stolen out nt the montli of the vallpy^ 

gone up, and taken the Fort." 

A dead silence reicrned for a few minutes, as 
Mr. Raydon stood thinking. Then suddenly 

" We did not give them credit for being so sharp 
as they are," he continued. "Here, forward all of 
you, back to the river. I hope my fears are wrong." 

"Hadn't we better go your way?" said Barker. 

"The forest is frightfully thick below, and it will 
take us hours." 

"The way we came will take twice as long/' said 
Mr. Raydon, sternly; "and it is one fearful climb 
right up into the mountain. We must go this way. 
Follow as quickly as possible. There will be no need 
to keep a look out now." 



552 TO THE WEST. 

The men mustered up without a word, and with 
Mr. Raydon and Barker leading, we tramped on as 
fast as we could, but making very poor progress 
during the next hour, for all were growing hot and 
exhausted, and the labour was really terrible. But 
they pressed on in silence, while Mr. Raydon and 

Barker talked together rather bitterly about the ill 
success of the expedition. 

We must have been walking about two hours 
when — 

"It will be night before w^e get to the Fort/ I 
heard the former say; "and who knows what may 
have happened there ! " 

'* But your men ^v\\l make a fight for it," said 
Barker. 

'' My principal fellow, Gray, will.fight to the death," 
said Mr. Raydon; " but there are not enough to hold 
the place. It is ruin and destruction. I ought not 

to have come." 

" Hush ! " I said, excitedly. " What's that ? '' 

Mr. Raydon stopped short, and held up his hand, 
when a low, dull, roaring sound as of a flood of 
water rushing up the valley was heard increasing 
rapidly. 

" Great heavens ! " cried Mr. Raydon, excitedly ; 
"they have fired the forest down below." 

And as he spoke there was a faint hot puff of air 
borne toward us, and with it the unmistakable odour 
of burning wood. 

A thrill of excitement ran through the men at the 
above words, and they looked at one another. The 
next moment they would have rushed back up the 
valley, but Mr. Raydon cried sharply 



A NEW ENEMY. 553 

*' No, no, my lads ; the fire cannot be right across 
the valley; let's go on and try and pass it." 

They seemed to be ready to obey the first who 
gave them orders, and Mr. Raydon led on again, but 
in less then ten minutes, during which the hot puffs 
of air and the roar had increased rapidly, we were 
face to face with the fact that the fire was cominor 
up like some terrible tide, evidently stretching right 
across from side to side, and already above our heads 
there were clouds of pungent smoke ; and the crackle, 
roar, and hiss of the burning wood was rapidly 
growing louder. 

"Halt!" roared Mr. Raydon. **It is death to go 
on. Back at once." 

"But the sides," cried Baiker; ''cant we all climb 
up here ? " 

"The fire would be on us before we were half-way 
up, even if we could climb, man," said Mr. Raydon, 
" which I doubt. Back at once ! " 

"Yes; quick! quick T' shouted one of the men. 
" Look, look ! " 

It did not need his shouts, for we could see the 
flames rushing up the higher trees, which seemed to 
flash with light, as if they had been strewn with 
powder; the heat was growing unbearable, and already 
I felt faint and giddy. 

Tt was quite time we were in full retreat, for there 
above our heads was a pall of black smoke, dotted 
with i]akes of flame, and a horrible panic now smote 
the men as they hurried on. 

*'Keep close to me, Gordon," said Mr. Raydon, 
glancing back. " Why, it is coming on like a hurri- 
cane of fire." 



554 TO THE WEST. 

It was too true, for the hot wind rushed up between 
the towering walls of the valley as if through a 
funnel; and before many minutes had passed we 
knew that the forest was on fire where we so lately 
stood, and that it was rapidly growing into a race 
between man's endurance and the wild rush of the 
flames. 

I looked back twice, to feel the hot glow of the 
fire on my face, and to see the lurid glare coming on 
with the black smoke clouds wreathing up at terrific 
speed. Then as we tramped on with the roar behind 
us as of some vast furnace, there came explosions 
like the firing of guns; the crashes of small arms; 
and from time to time the fall of some tree sounded 
like thunder. 

The men needed no spurring to get on out of the 
dense labyrinth of trees, through which we tolled 
on hot to suffocation, breathless, and in mortal 
dread of being overtaken by the fearful enemy 
roaring in our rear. For, so rapid was the advance 
of the fire, that for a certainty a ten minutes halt 
would have been enough to have brought the line of 
fiio up to us. 

"Dont stop to look back," cried Mr. Kaj^don. 
"Press on, men; press on. Keep together." 

I thought of the consequences of one of our party 
losing his way ever so little, and the men knew it 
only too well as they kept together in a little crowd 
which was constantly being broken up and separated 
by the trees round which they threaded their way. 

" Is there much more of this ? " said Barker, 
suddenly appearing close to us. 

" Yes," replied Mr. Ra^^don ; " miles." 



A NEW ENEMY. 555 

" Shall we do it ? " he panted. 

'* With God's help," was Eaydon's quiet reply; and 
I saw Barker set his teeth hard, and throw his gun 
further over his shoulder as he bent down to his 
task. 

The narrow gate of the valley at last ; and as we 
filed through the opening I wondered whether it 
would tend to check the advance of the fire, and 
began to wonder whether the trees were much thinner 
on the higher side. But I felt that they were not, 
and that it would be long enough before we struggled 
on to a place where we could be in safety ; while 
what seemed directly after, there was a deafening 
roar which I knew to be that of the flames closed up 
by the narrow way, and leaping after us now, as if 
in dread that we should escape. 

" Man down ! " shouted a voice ; and in the horrible 
selfishness of their fear the rest were passing on, but 
at a word from Mr. Raydon four of his men seized 
the poor exhausted fellow, each taking an arm or leg, 
and bearing him on, while a few drops were trickled 
from a flask between his lips. 

"Man down!" was shouted again; and this time 
the retreating party seized the poor fellow, following 
the example of our men, and bore him on, while he 

Avas submitted to the same treatment. 

Ten minutes after the poor felloAvs were on their 
feet again, struggling on with the support of the 
arms of two of their fellows. 

A dozen times over I felt that all was over, and 
that we might as well accept our fate. For we could 
hardly breathe, and now the sparks and flakes of fiie 
and burning twigs came showering down upon us, as 



556 TO THE WEST. 

if sent forward by the main body of the flame to 
check ns till the advance came on. 

The latter part of that retreat before our merciless 
enemy became to me at last like a dream, during 
which I have some recollection of staggering along 
with my arm in Mr. Raydon's, and the people about 
us tottering and blundering along as if drunk with 
horror and exhaustion. Every now and then men 
went down, but they struggled up again, and staggered 
on, a crew of wild, bloodshot-eyed creatures, whose 
lips were parched, and white with foam ; and the^i 
something cool was being splashed on my face. 

" Coming round, sir ? " said a familiar voice. 

" Yes ; he'll be better soon. A terrible experience, 
Mr. Barker,'* 

" Terrible isn't the word for it, sir. I gave up a 
dozen times or so, and thought the end had come. 
Why, it was almost like a horse galloping. 1 never 
saw anything like it." 

" Nor wish to see anything like it again," said Mr. 
Raydon. 

By this time I was looking round, to find that we 
were seated by the stream, where the water came 
bubbling and splashing down, while far below us the 
smoke and flame went up whirling into the sky. 

*' Better, my lad ? " said Mr. Raydon. 

"Yes, only giddy," I said; and after drinking 
heartily and washing my face in the fresh, cool water, 
I was ready to continue our journey. 




CHAPTEll LTTT. 



MR. John's scruples. 




T was a dreary, toilsome climb up the nar- 
row portion of the valley, and it was quite 
dark by the time we had reached the 
spot where we descended first that morn- 
ing, and consequently our task grew more risky and 
difficult ; but there was no shrinking, and following 
in each other's steps, we went on over the bare 
mountain below where the sheep had been seen, 
and with no other light than that of the stars, 
descended into the narrow gorge which led down 
into Golden Valley. 

Here we of necessity, on reaching Gunson's claim, 
made a halt to refresh ; but as soon as possible Mr. 
Ray don gave the word "Forward!" again, and the 
men stepped out better, for this was all well-known 
ground. 

Five-minute halts were made twice on the way 
down, so as to obtain food at a couple of tents. Then 
it was on again, and the river was reached at last, 
and the steady upward trudge commenced for the 
Fort. 



558 TO THE WEST. 

Mr. Raydon did not speak, but I felt that his 
thoughts must have been the same as mine, as I 
wondered what had taken place, and whether he was 
right in his belief that the enemy had gone up to the 
Fort after firing the forest. 

All doubt was cleared when we were about half 
a mile from our destination, for there suddenly 
boomed out on the still night air, to echo and die 
rumbling away among the mountains, the heavy 
report of one of the small cannon of the block houses, 
and this sound sent the men onward at double speed, 
for it meant not only that the Fort was attacked, but 
that Gray and those with him were making a brave 
defence. 

" Steady, steady ! " said Mr. Raydon, in a low, 
stern voice. " We must get up there ready for a run 
in. You are out of breath, my lads." 

The men from the Fort, who were in front, slowed 

down a little ^^ tin's, dropping from the donblfi into 

a sharp, quick walk; but the report of a second gun, 
and then the crackle of rifle-firing, started them again 
into a steady trot, and I found myself forgetting my 
weariness, and running by Mr. Raydon step for step. 

The firing grew sharper as we neared the palisade, 
which was dimly seen in the starlight, and the flashes 
of the rifles and the lights we saw going here and 
there added to the excitement of the scene as Mr. 
Raydon said aloud — 

" They have got in, and are trying to take the 
west block-house. Too late ! they have taken it, 
he cried, as a burst of cheering rose from within the 



»/ 



great fence. Then in a quick whisper he bade the 
men halt, about a dozen yards from the gateway. 



MR. John's schuples. 559 

" Mr. Barker/' he said, *' keep the gate, and come 
to our help if we want it. Don't let a man pass. 
No bloodshed if you can help it prisoners. Now, 
Hudson's Bay boys, ready ! " 

A fresh burst of cheering arose just then, and 
directly after the loud shriek of a woman, and a voice 
I knew as Esau's roaring out angry words. 

"Forward!" said Mr. Raydon. "Open out into 
line, and use the butts of your rifles." 

I ran with them from the force of example, and 
carried away by the excitement, as our men charged 
rapidly across the enclosure to where, in happy ignor- 
ance of the fact that help was at hand, the gang of 
scoundrels were busy binding their prisoners, whom 
they had just dragged out of the block-house. But 
the next minute there was a yell of rage and hate, 
with the sound of heavy blow-i, pistol shots, oaths 
and curses, and then the pattering of feet, and Mr. 

Raydon's voice rang ont 

" Four men your way," he cried ; and directly 
after there was a repetition of the blows, shots, and 
yells, followed by a cheer from the gate. 

For the last of the gang had been beaten down, 
and as pine-torches were lit, the wounded were 
separated from the uninjured, and these latter were 
placed in rows under a strong guard ; while explana- 
tions followed. Gray assuring us that the women were 
safe; that the cry came from Mrs. Dean, who had 
tried to protect her son ; and that we had come 
just in time, after a desperate struggle, first at the 
gate, and lastly at the block-house, which he had 
defended as vigorously as his limited means would 
allow. But at last, after beinrj wounded twice, and 



iC 



560 TO THE WEST. 

his two most helpful men laid low, he had suc- 
cumbed to a desperate rush. 

Day broke on as wild a looking set as can be 
imagined; jaded, exhausted, blackened with smoke, 
our men sat and lay about for the most part unhurt, 
though several showed traces of the desperate struggle 
made by the surprised gang, whose one handed leader 
told Mr. Raydon with a savage oath that he thought 
our party had been burned in the forest. 

'' Then it was your doing," said Barker, fiercely. 
Course it was/' said the ruffian. "Give me a 
chance, and I'll burn this place too." 

Barker raised his fist to strike the fellow, but Mr. 
Raydon seized his arm. 

*' Don't do that," he said; "we shall not give him 
a chance." 

And so it proved, for that night, when I rose after 
a long deep sleep, I found that a party had started 
down the valley with the prisoners. 

"You came just in time, Mayne Gordon," said Mr. 
John to me. " I was so frightened that it made me 
desperate too. I'm afraid I hurt one man." 

" You did, sir,'' I said laughing. "Gray told me how 
you swung your rifle round, and struck him down. 



)> 



" I did, my boy, I did," he said. " Don't laugh. 
I do not feel satisfied that I did right." 

"You did it to defend your wife," said IVrr. 
Raydon, who came up; "and I never felt so proud of 
you before, John, There, I must go and see my 
injured men. 



>> 



CHAPTER LIV. 



WE MAKK A FKKSil STAKT. 




HE wouiuled prisoners were not got rid 
of for quite a foitnight, during which 
time nicxtters settled down ai^ain into the 
regular routine, on3 of my piincipal tasks 
being helping Mr. Gunson to take little walks, then 
longer and longer ones, after which we used to go 
and have a chat with Gray, wlio made very light of 
his wounds. 

One day I a^ked leave of Mr. Raydon to go and 
have a look at the valley wdiere we had had so 
narrow an escape. He gave me leave freely enough ; 
and as Mr. Gunson did not care to accompany me, 
saying he had no taste for works in charcoal, I asked 
leave for Esau to come ; and in due time we stood at 
the mouth of the valley gazing up. 

'*'Nuff to make a fellow sit down and cry," said 
Esau, as I recalled our escape. 

" Pitiful 1 " I said sadly. 

"Ah, that ain't half strong enough," he said, as we 
tramped on amongst the ashes and charred wood, 
with the tall stumps of the great pines standing 

N N 



562 TO THE WEST. 

burned for the most part to sharp points, and looking 
like landmarks to show the terrible devastation in 
the once lovely wooded vale. 

*'I only feel as if I could not use words strong 
enough/' I replied, as we slowly tramped on, with the 
charred wood cracking under our feet^ and the only 
thing that redeemed the burned region being the 
beautiful stream which rushed and leaped and 
sparkled, just as it had been wont before the fire 
scorched the whole place into a desert. 

"Why, it'll take hundreds of years for the trees to 
grow up again, if they ever do, for it strikes me the 
fire's spoiled even the ground." 

" It may," I said sadly. 

*'Welh it's too hot to go on any further," said 
Esau. " Let's go back. Ugh ! see how black we're 

getting. I say, look ! I can't see a single green thing. 

Everything's burnt ! " 

*' Yes/' I said ; " and this was to have been our 
home, 

'^What!" cried Esau, giving sudi a start that he 
raised a little puff of black dust, 

*'This valley, with its pleasant meadows and the 
park-like entrance, was to have been our home. 
Mr. Raydon had chosen it for Mr. and Mrs. John." 

" Well/' cried Esau ; *' then it is too bad. It was 
bad enough before for such a glorious place to be 
burned up; but as it was to have been ours — Oh, 
I hope they'll transport those fellows for life." 

We tramped back, having seen enough of the 
desolation to make our hearts ache, and stayed for a 
couple of hours in the lower part catching trout to 
take back with us before starting homeward, and 



>i 



WE MAKE A FEESH STAKT. 5Q3 

passing two parties of gold-diggers from the coast on 
their way to the Golden Valley. 

They asked us eagerly to direct them, and I showed 
them the way with a curious feeling of dissatisfaction. 

But that was of little use, fcr if I had not pointed 
out the way some one else would, for the news had 
spread far and wide, and the gold-washing was going 
on more vigorously every day. Crowds of people 
were flocking up the valleys, some to gain fortunes, 
but the greater part nothing but ill-health and dis- 
appointment. 

Tlie constant accessions of stransrers made it the 
more difficult for Gunson's claim to be held ; but, in 
spite of all opposition and complaint, this was done, 
the four men, or others in their place, being always 
kept on guard. 

At last came the day when, in spite of Mr. Ray- 
don's advice to stay longer, Gun&on declared himself 
quite strong and well. 

*'I am anxious to get back," he said, ''and the 
more so that I am keeping your men there. 

"I have not complained," said Mr. Eaydon. 

"No; and you puzzle me," replied Gunson. "I 
should have thought you would have tried all you 
could to keep me back.'* 

*'Why should 1? What difference does one 
make ? " 



)) 



7 



J> 



yy 



"Then one more or less is of no consequence 1 
said Gunson, laughing. *' Well, I am not going to 
repeat all I have said before as to being grateful. 

" I beg you will not," said Mr. E-aydon. " We had 
our duty to do to a sick man, and we have done it." 

" Nobly," said Gunson, warmly. 



504* TO THJE WEST. 

' xVuJ you intend to start ? " 

" To-morrow morning, eagerly but unwillingly, for 
I am loth to leave the society of the tender friends 
who have nursed me back to life " 

He looked at Mrs. John and then at Mr. John, 
ending by beckoning to me to come out with him 
into the enclosure, where Mr. Raydon joined us, to 

begin talking about the stores he meant Gunson to 
have. 

" But really, I cannot be putting myself under 
fresh obligations/' said Gunson. 

" Very well then," said Mr. Raydon, rather bitterly ; 
"pay me, and be independent." Then facing round 
and looking at me, and at Esau, ^\ho was some little 
distance away, he said sharply — 

" You will take these two lads to help you, of 

course ? 



)i 



jj 



Yes,'' said Gunson, as the blood flushed to my 
teuiples, "of couiNc. I rould nof do witliout them. 

I saw Mr. Raydon frown, but no more was said, 
and we spent the rest of the day making prepara- 
tions for our start, i\Irs. Dean helping, with the tears 
trickling down her cheeks as she worked, and bringing 
forth appeal after appeal from Esavi not " to do that." 

Those few hours seemed to run away, so that it 
was night long before I expected it, and at last I 
went to Mr. Raydon's quarters to say good-bye. 

" There is no need," said Mr. John, sadly. " The 
mornini^ will do." 

'* But we start directly after daylight," I said. 

" Yes, I know ; but we shall be up to see you off." 

I went away to my own quarters sadly dispirited ; 
and my feelings weie not brightened by the scene 



WE MAKE A FRESH START. 565 

going on between Esau and his mother ; and I gladly 
went out into the cool dark night to try and grow 
composed, when a high-pitched voice saluted me. 

"Allee leady/' it said. "Plenty tea, plenty flou, 
plenty bacon. Quong velly glad to go," 

I could not say the same, and I passed a very 
poor night, gladly rising at Gunson^s call, and dress- 
ing in the half darkness, so eager was I to get the 
painful farewells over and make a start. 

Mr. and Mrs. John had kept their words, and Mrs. 
Dean was waiting to kiss me and say good-bye, and 
beg me to take care of Esau. 

" For he is so rash," she whimpered. " Do keep 
him out of danger, my dear." 

I promised, and it was understood that we all 
parted the best of friends, Mr. Eaydon inviting us 
all to come over and see them Avhen we chose, and 
offering to take charge of any gold Gunson might 
feel dispose^l to bririg over to tlie Fort. 

Then we were off, all well laden, and with two of 
the men and their Indian wives to carry stores. 

The way chosen was through the forest, and away 
over the mountain ridge, so as to avoid passing all 
the little camps ; and in due time we reached the 
clainj, dismissed the bearers, and once more settled 
down to our work. 

"We must try hard to make up for lost time, my 
lads," said Gunson. "Why, Gordon, you don't seem 
to relish the task." 

"Oh, yes," I said, "only I feel a little dull at 
leavinc^ the Fort." 



CHAPTER LV. 



ic 




MK. KAYDUJN QUOTES LATIN. 

OTHING has been touched/' said Mr. 
Gunson, the next morning. "I don't 
believe Jlaydon's men have even washed 
a pan of gold, and my bank is quite 

safe." 

I looked at him inquiringly. 

" I examined it while you were asleep, Mayne /' he 

said. 

" Then you have a good deal stored up here ? " 

"Yes somewhere," he said. "Til show you one 
of these days. Now then ; ready ? " 

We declared our readiness, and once more we 
beoran work, out in the silence of that beautiful 
valley, digging, washing, and examining, as we picked 
out the soft deadened golden scales, beads, grains, and 

tiny smooth nuggets. 

We all worked our hardest, Quong being indefatig- 
able, and darting back, after ruaning off to see to the 
fire, to dig and wasli with the best of us. 

We had very fair success, but nothing dazzling, and 
the sfold we found was added to the bank on the 
fourth day, this bank proving to be a leather bag 



MR. RAYDON QUOTES LATIN. 567 

"which Mr. Gunson dug up carefully in my presence, 
while I stared at him, and burst out laughing at 
his choice of what I thought so silly and unsafe a 
place for his findings. 

" Why do you laugh ? " he said, quietly. " Do you 
think I might have had a strong box instead of a 
leather bag ? " 

" I should have thought that you would have 
buried it in some out-of-the-way, deserted corner," I 
said, "I could find hundreds about," 

"Yes" he said; "and so could other people, my 
lad. Those are the very spots they would have 
searched. I wanted a place where no one would 
look." 

"And so you hid it here," I said, wonderingly, for 
I could not quite see that he was right, and yet he 
must have been, for the gold was safe. 

His hiding-place was down in the sand, right in 
the beaten track people walked over on their way up 
the valley. 

We worked on busily for a month after Mr, 
Gunson's coming back to his claim ; and then one 
day we struck camp and marched back to the Fort, 
with a small quantity of gold, the fifth that we had 
taken up. 

" Why, hallo 1 '' cried Mr. Raydon as he came in 
and found us there, with Mr. and Mrs. John, and 
Gunson looking very serious. 

"Yes," he said. " It's all over. My luck again." 

" What do you mean ? " 

"That was a rich little deposit, and we have 
gleaned the last grain. The other people are doing 
badly too, and going back." 



568 TO THE WEST. 

*' But there must be plenty more," said Mr. 

Ray don. 

"No; I believe we have pretty well cleared the 
valley.^' 

'*Then I am delighted," ciied Mr. Eaydon. 



" Gunson, I congratulate you." 
" Indeed ! " said Gunson, coldly. 

'^ Yes, for now there will be an end to this 
grasping, avaricious work, and our pleasant vales will 
return to the condition that is best." 

" The hope of my life is crushed, man, and I must 
begin my weary hunt again," said Gunson, bitterly. 

" No ; your noAV and happier, more manly life is 
now about to commence. Look here, what gold 



have you got ? 

"You know." 

" Not I. I knoAV that I supplied you with a couple 
of sheep skins, which you made into bags, and that 
those bags ave in my si^rong box. What have you ? " 

"After I have fairly apportioned shares to Mayne, 
to Dean, and to my little Cliinese friend, I shall have 
a thousand pounds' worth for myself." 

"Ample, and double what you will require, man," 
said Mr. Raydon. " Think ^vhcre you are, in a 
country — a virgin country — as beautiful, more beauti- 
ful than dear old England, a jilace where for almost 
nothing you may select land by -one of our lovely 
streams, which, as the writer said, is waiting to be 
tickled with a hoe, that it may laugh with a harvest. 
Come : England is too narrow for such a man as 
you. Take up land, make a ranch if you like, or 
farm as they farm at home; sow your grains of gold 
in the shape of wheat, and they will come up a 



'J 



MR. RAYDON QUOTES LATIN, 569 

hundredfold. Build your house, and send for the 
mother and sister of whom you spoke to me when 
you were so weak." 

''I spoke !" said Gunson, wonderingly. 

" Yes ; you were half dehrious, but you spoke of 
a dear mother and sister in England ; bring them to 
share your prosperity, for prosperity must come; "and 
it is a life worth living:, after all. 

As he spoke I felt my heart swell with hope ; 
the gloomy feelings of disappointment passed away, 
and I found myself gazing with astonishment at Mr. 
Gunson, whose morose, disfigured face seemed to 
brighten up and glow, while his eye flashed again, 
as when Mr. Raydon finished speaking he leaned 

forward and grasped his hand. 

"God bless you for those words," he said; "you 
have made light shine into a darkened heart. I will 
do this thing. Heaven helping me, I will never seek 

for a grain of gold agairi. 



)f 



''1 shall register your oatJi, Gunson," said Mr. 
Raydon, smiling. 

'* Do. It will be kept. Yes : I will fetch them 
over ; and, Mrs. John, it will be one of the delights of 
my new life, to introduce two ladies most dear to me 
to one whom they will venerate and love. Mayne, 
you have never told them all I said to you ? " 

*' No/' I said ; " it would have been a breach of 
confidence." 

I looked up as I sf>oke, and saw that Mr. Raydon's 
eyes were fixed upon me searchingly, and his voice 
sounded harsh again as he said — 

"It was a breach of confidence, Ma3me Gordon, to 
tell Mr. Gunson here of the existence of gold in the 



570 TO THE WEST. 

little valley. Do you remember your promise to 
me?" 

*' Yes, sir/' I said, boldly, for I felt that at last the 
truth must come out, and I should be cleared ; for 
I would speak now if Mr. Gunson did not. " I 
remember well." 

" Mayne," said Gunson ; and my heart seemed to 
leap " Mayne tell me about the gold up yonder ? 
No, no ; it was not he." 

"What!" cried Mr. RaydoQ, excitedly. "It was 
not Mayne Gordon who told you ? " 

" No ; it was that little Chinaman confided to me 
that he had made a big find. The little fellow always 
had confidence in me. He brought me quite a 
hundred pounds' worth to take care of for him when 
I was here last, and proposed to put himself under 
my protection and to work for me if I allowed him 
a tenth." 

"Then it was not Mayne?" cried Mrs. John, e"x"- 
citedly. 

"No, madam. I knew friend Raydon would be 
angry, but I was obliged to accept the offer, for I felt 
that some time or other the people would come, and 
I argued that the sooner it was all cleared out the 
better for Raydon's peace of mind. You knew it 
must be discovered." 

"Yes; I always knew that; but I wanted to keep 
away those who came as long as possible," 

" They are going already, and you will soon have 
your vales in peace again.'' 

" Yes, yes, yes," muttered Mr. Raydon, beginning 
to walk up and down the room, while I felt in such 
a whirl of excitement, as I saw Mrs. John's beautiful, 



MR. RAYDON QUOTES LATIN. 571 

motherly eyes fixed lovingly on mine, and felt Mr. 
John snatch my hand and press it, and then give 
vent to his delight at the clearing up by slapping 
me heavily on the shoulder, that I could not see Mr. 
Raydon s puckered brow. What I did see was the 
bear's head looking down at me, showing its grinning 
teeth as if it were laughing and pleased, and the 
moose staring at me with its mournful aspect less 
marked. All nonsense this, I know, but there was 
a feeling of joy within me that filled me with ex- 
ultation. 

The silence was almost painful at last, and the 
tension grew to such an extent that I felt at last 
that I must run out and tell Esau I had misjudged 
him, as I had been misjudged, when Mr. Raydon 
stopped before me and said softly- 
" You remember your Latin, Mayne ? " 
"A little, sir," I said, wondering at his words. 
" Humammi est crrare. You know that?" 
"Yes, sir/' I said, huskily; "but please don't say 



any more. 

*'I must. I have erred bitterly. I was blind to 
the truth. Will you forgive me ? " 

" Mr. Raydon !'' I cried. 

" My dear boy," he said, as he grasped my hands ; 
and, to my astonishment, I saw the tears standing in 
his eyes, while I could not help thinking as he stood 
there softened towards me, how like he seemed to 
his sister; "you do not know how I have suffered, 
hard, cold man as I have grown in my long residence 
in these wilds.'' 

" But it's all past now, sir " I said ; '' and you 
know the truth." 



572 TO THE WEST. 

*' Yes ; all past," said Gunson, warmly. 

"Past; but I shall never forget it, Mayne. My 
dear sister's letter interested me deeply in you, and 
when you came I felt that she had not exaggerated, 
and you at once made your way with me. Then came 
this wretched misunderstanding, blinding me to 
everything but the fact that I had received a wound, 
one which irritated me more than I can say." 

'* Pray, pray say no more, sir," I cried, excitedly. 

" I must, Mayne. I ought to have known better." 

"I am glad, Dan," cried Mr John, exultingly. "I 
have always been such a weak, easily-led-away man, 
that my life has been a series of mistakes ; and it is 
a delightful triumph to me to find that my hard- 
headed, stern brother-in law can blunder too." 

" Yes ; it will take some of the conceit out of me," 
said Mr. Raydon, smiling. ' There ; shake hands, 
my lad. I read your forgiveness in your eyes." 

" Why, my dear Raydon," cried Mr. Gunson, 
merrily, "what moles we all are, and how things 
shape themselves without our help ! I find that in 
my wild thirst for gold I have been acting as your 
good genii." 

"How?" said Mr. Raydon. 

*' By bringing Mayne and you closer together than 
you would ever have been without this mistake. 
See what I have done for yo i too^ in clearing the 

valley of this horrible gold ! " he cried, merrily. 

"But youVe ruined the estate I was to have had," 
said Mr. John. " My brother and I went down and 
had a look ai it, and it is one horrible black desert/' 
Pish, man ! " cried Gunson ; " may work for the 

best; 






MR. RAYDON QUOTES LATIN. 573 

" What ! " ciied Mr. John ; ' are you mad ? " 

"No, sir. Never more sane; for the gold mania 
has gone. That vale was grand with its mighty 
trees, but it was the work of a generation to clear 
that forest. Througli me, that place was swept clean 
in a couple of days.'* 

"Clean?" said Mr. John, dolefully. 

"Yes; and the ground covered with the rich, 
fertilizing ashes of the forest Raydon, what will 
that place be in a year ? " 

''Giecn again; and in two years, when the black 
stumps are demolished, far more beautiful and suit 
able for settlement than it was before. He is quite 
right, John; it is a blessing for us in disguise." 

"Humph!" ejaculated Mr. John; and Mrs. John 
shook her head sadly. 

" I do not like disguises," she said ; " and I grieve 
for those lovely pyramidal trees." 

" Trees enough and to spare everywhere," said Mr. 
Raydon. "Don't be afraid; you shall have a lovely 
liome eh, Mayne ? I think we can manage that. 
There, Gunson, the sooner the better. Let's have 
a happy settlement there, and no more gold." 






\ 



CHAPTER LVI. 



THE GOLDEN HARVEST. 




N a year from that time there was not a 
single gold digger left in the neighbour- 
hood, for the news of fresh discoveries 
further north had drawn them all away, 
and Nature soon hid the untidy spots they had made 
in Golden Valley with their camps. Gunson had no 
hesitation in selecting the black valley for his farm, 
where, in a wonderfully short space of time, patches 
of green began to appear ; while Mrs. John, in perfect 
faith that the place would soon recover, herself picked 
out the spot at the entrance of the burned valley, 
close by a waterfall, and was- more contented by the 
fact that several magnificent pines were left standing 
by the fire, which at starting had not extended so far. 

Here a delightful little cottage was built almost in 
Swiss fashion, the men from the Fort helping eagerly 
to prepare a home for one who, by her gentleness, 
had quickly w^on a place in their esteem, without 
counting the fact that she was their chief officer's 
sister. 

In a very short time this was surrounded by a 



THE GOLDKN HARVEST. 575 

garden, in which Mr. John spent the greater part of 
his time, planting flowers that his wife loved, while 
Esau and I had our shares of the gold invested in land 
bought by acting under Mr. Raydon's advice, ready 
for our working at some future time, for then we 
were busy helping the Dempsters and Gunson, making 
plans and improvements. 

How we all worked ! and what delightful days 
those were, the more so that in due time there came 
to our friend's home a sweet looking, gray-haired 
lady with a patient, rather pinched aspect, and a 
grave, handsome woman, whom I knew at once for 
Gunson's sister j but I was rather puzzled when I 
heard that their names were Mrs. and Miss Effingham. 

" My name, Mayne, my lad, ' said the prospector, 
" when I was a gentleman, and now I take it once 



again.*' 



Those two ladies looked scared and sad till they 
saw Mrs. John, and then o change seemed to come 
over them, such as I had seen in Gunson I mean 
Effingham — as he listened to Mr. Raydon's words. 

In a week Mrs. Effingham was ready for me with 
a smile, and Miss Effingham was singing about the 
place while I helped her plan a garden for the alpine 
flowers we collected. 

Yes : that soon became a happy valley, where 
there was always some new pleasure of a simple kind 

■the arrival of boxes of seeds, or packages of fruit- 
trees from England, implements for the farming- 
endless things that civilization asks for. 

Then Esau developed into a wonderful carpenter, 
after instructions from Gray at the Fort ; and from 
carpentering blossomed into cabinet-making. Every 



576 TO THE WEST, 

oue was busy, and as for Quoug, he quite settled 
down as cook in geneial, baker, and useful hand, 
confiding to me that lie did not nit^au to go bciek to 
China fcill he died. 

" This velly nice place, sah. No sabbee more ploper 
place. Quong velly happy, sah. You like cup flesh 
tea ? " 

He alsvays offered me that whenever I went near 
him, and I think his feelings were those of every 
one tliere. For it was a pleasant sight to see Mr. 
and Mrs. John in their garden, which was half Nature- 
made when they brgan, and grew in beauty as the 
years rolled on, tljough they had formidable competi- 
tors up at the farm. 

'* Yes,'* said Mr. Effingham one day as I stood 
with him and Mr. Raydon in the big barn — that big 
barn built of Douglas pine planks, cut down by Esau 
and me, sawn in our own mill turned by the beauti- 
ful stream a mill erected with Mr. Ray Ion's help. 
"Yes," he said, as he thrust his hand into a sack, 
and let the contents tiickle back; " tliat's as good 
wheat as they grow in England. You were right, 
old fellow. Do you hear, Mayne ? Tliese are the 
real golden grains, and the best that man can find.'' 



THE END 



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